Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I hope you like and are intrigued by the brief and vague.

I just signed into this blog for the first time in over two months. Two months! I've thought about writing and have had so much going on, but I never (pause while my 4 year old walks backwards to me to ask, "Is this what my elbow really looks like? Feel it. It's not right.")...never even moseyed over here to put letters to screen. I've been working on a lot of things for our school, have done so much that I'd love to share, and am just generally pretty happy to be sharing it all with you, if you're still around. I hope so.

It's the middle of the day, which isn't the best time to be writing anything that requires thinking. All I'm thinking about right now, for example, is about the photo of the Ashland Kentucky High-Wheel Bicycle Club I just saw in history of Ashland book I just (just now!) got (even though it was supposed to be here for Christmas, but that's no big deal) and also there's a kid jumping on the couch beside me singing a song about how terrible it is that she's soooo hungry. It is terrible, isn't it? I am shamed (by cute song) into feeding her. The sharing will come when everyone goes to bed much, much later tonight. I hope I don't beat them to it.

UPDATE: Remind me to fulfill blogging obligations before I start rearranging the classroom area. No one told me that being janitor was part of the job...

(You're embarrassed for me, aren't you? I wish I wouldn't have started. I wish we had different curtains. I wish we never brought a larger-than-life, my-husband's-a-MAN-because-he-won-it-at-the-fair Zoe into the house. You can wish me luck.)

UPDATE, THE RETURN: Loft finished and lovely and dust-free. Curtains, however, remain.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Totally Fun Thing I'll Totally Do Again

Since I began homeschooling both of my older kids, I've been amazed (every day!) at how different their learning styles and interests are. Ian is quick to pick up foreign language, can spell and read anything, and loves to write. He learns best by reading and repetition. Allie can do math problems in her head better than I can on paper, and she loves it. She's also wildly creative and easily bored. She learns best by doing, with lots of hands-on activities and illustrations.

Their differences are rarely an issue. I do their math and English/grammar lessons separately, and our history lessons combine reading and worksheets with art projects and crafts. One area that has been a challenge, though, is our language studies. We're studying Greek and Latin. (We did study French for a bit, but scaled it back for now.) Ian looks at a word or letter once and it never leaves his head. It takes Allie longer to understand, and sometimes she gets frustrated that Ian gets it so much faster and is bored by the constant memorization. So, after reviewing and reviewing and reviewing vocabulary and making worksheet after worksheet, I finally had an idea!

Presenting: Action Kid Comics! Each panel has a Latin verb (first person singular, so it stars Ian! And Allie!) And they do exciting things like: I walk!, I work!, and I shout! (Hey, we'll get more exciting as we go along. You can't start with I destroy! or, I build an empire!) They have to remember what the word is and then illustrate each panel accordingly. Simple, right? Holy cow, they had such a blast with it. They actually were all a-flutter with glee over how to illustrate "navigo." And me? I was all a-flutter over their excitement. It was so much fun watching them draw and to see how differently they chose to interpret each one. Adoro: Ian adores Pokemon, and Allie adores Kit, her American Girl doll. Navigo: Ian drew himself as an explorer, and Allie chose to be a Viking-pirate hybrid. Laboro: Ian apparenly works for UPS and was carrying a box marked "fragile," and Allie drew herself at her desk, reading a book.

And, hooray, the words are safe and sound in the little houses built for Latin in their heads*. We can move along.

*(What?, you say? Another learning trick that's been funny and successful: We built a house for each subject in our heads, and each house has to be so wonderful that the facts never want to leave. Ian's math house is pretty elaborate, since his math facts do tend to wander, so he built them a house made of gold and gemstones and they have lots of parties and cake. Sometimes bands come and play a show for them. And voila! The multiplication facts are happy at the lovely home in Ian's brain. I kind of wish I lived in the math house, actually.)

(Whatever works, right?)

Friday, October 16, 2009

few words friday

I'm writing this snuggled up in front of a fireplace in a cozy little room in the Tennessee mountains. I'm surrounded by bear statues that would make me roll my eyes if they were anywhere else, but here they're just adorable. We'd planned on hiking this weekend, but it's so, so cold and very, very rainy. (Also: No Dollywood.) However, the kids are overjoyed to just be in a room with cable, so they're happily, quietly curled up by the warm glow of Cartoon Network, building with Lincoln Logs and drinking hot chocolate. I'm happy, too. If I decide to actually get up and do something, I'll post some pictures. Y'all have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thursday Showed Up Too Fast (Apologies to Space Week)

Part One:
Space Week! Still goin' on, just barely. But who needs Space Week for an excuse to study (and love) space? Not us! No, sir, we're rollerskating the rings of Saturn and penning love letters to Wernher von Braun and Yuri Gagarin year 'round. So now I'm going to put down my old copy of The Right Stuff (no joke, I just finished the part where the seven astronauts first arrived in Houston) and share some of my favorite links with you. If I've missed one of your favorites, please share!
Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill: One of our favorite places to go. We've seen several of the planetarium shows there, and the kids love them all. It's fun to wander around the building, some of which is beautiful and full of old paintings and statues, and other parts are very 1950s government building basement-esque. Even that's pretty great, though, because it's easier to imagine the Mercury program astronauts walking the halls on their way to celestial navigation training. (It happened here!) We're always looking for an excuse to mosey down to Chapel Hill, and this is one of the best.
HubbleSite: More than just gorgeous pictures, this site is loaded with stargazing information, podcasts, interactive thingies, crafts, and links.
Best of the Hubble Telescope: It is what it says: A round-up of the Hubble's best. Lots of lovely.
Amazing Space: HubbleSite's sister site, with lots of information and activities for educators.
Science-Teachers.com: They have a few worksheets on the constellations that are very informative and easy to follow.
NASA: Obviously. Great, great site with videos, pictures, space news, interactive features, and a kids' club section with games and fun stuff
Raleigh Astronomy Club: Another site for the locals. Look for astronomy clubs where you live! They're great for offering stargazing sessions and classes, and are always excited to share their knowledge with curious kids and their geeky moms.
EvaDot: This site has some good podcasts on inpsiring our kids to learn and love science, invention, and exploration.
The Russian Archives give a nice little tribute to the first man in space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
(Speaking of Yuri, celebrate Yuri's Night every April 12!)
I Spy Space: This site has a thorough chronology of space exploration and several good articles. I especially liked the artices on Grissom and Chaffee.
Dreams of Space: Two of my favorite, favorite things in one place! Vintage children's books + space = bliss. (Also check out the blog that goes along with this site, and then go to see Space Alphabet, which someone posted on Flickr. Joy!)

Pay respect to Laika, our favorite muttnik.
Starchild: Videos and articles on space and space travel
Space.com: Yup, lots of Space...videos, news, forums, etc.
Astronomy (for Kids): Astronomy Magazine's kid section, with videos and articles on observation, nativation, and the solar system.

This is just the beginning! Stay tuned, my little star sailors, for part two, coming (hopefully!) very soon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

(Halfway Through) World Space Week

(Black Hole, by Allie)

Hi, all. Like the title says, we're halfway through World Space Week, which is no small deal in our house. Later today, I'll post some of my favorite spacey links and resources that we're enjoying this week and all the other weeks as well. Right now we're getting up & atom, and here in a bit we're going to go to the IMAX theater to watch a 3D movie on Mummies.

(A Star, Close Up, by Ian)

(The Universe, by Annie)

Monday, September 28, 2009

RANT!: In Which I Challenge Jezebel & Salon Letter-Writers to a Round of Fisticuffs

In spite of our flu-ishness, I've been in an obnoxiously sunshiny mood. (I would skip everywhere if I weren't afraid of barfing.) The kids are starting to feel a little better, and we were able to sit outside today and enjoy a cool fall afternoon. Each of the kids received a letter from their French penpals, which really made their day. (Oh, cute French penpals, with your lovely curly European cursive and your adorable French phrases sprinkled throughout your newly-learned basic English! I wish I were an 8 year old French girl growing up outside of Paris who loves riding her horses. Sigh.) So we sat on our back deck and wrote our replies in English, with our newly-learned, very basic French phrases placed wherever they seemed appropriate. I'm sure the penpals are going to be delighted to find out that Allie's favorite color is pink or that Ian's birthday is in August. De rien, mes amies.

In one of the homeschool blogs I stumbled across this evening, I found a link to an article in Salon posted today and written by a homeschooling father of two. I thought it was a very basic, pretty innocuous telling of the reasons their family homeschools, the questions and reactions they face, and the answers/occasional half-truths they give. My reaction to it was that it told of many situations I could relate to (and have dealt with in a similar manner), that it would hopefully show people that homeschoolers are a diverse group of people and not just the fringes of the right & left, and, holy cow, how cool would it be to homeschool in Brooklyn.

BUT THEN. Then! I noticed with amazement that there were already almost 400 replies to the story. Admission: I have a weakness for reading responses to articles, and I know I shouldn't click there because I only get all wound up and surly, but I always do. My husband will back me up on this. At least once a day he'll hear me yell, "G! You'll never believe what this idiot said on (local news website)! Grrr!" And he will say, "Why do you always read that stuff?" And I will say, "Because I can't stop myself." And it's true. So, folks, of course I clicked. My goodness, the hate! The hate and the judgment, the name-calling and the insults! Here's a snippet of one of the stand-outs so far:

"The main reason for home schooling is not the low quality of American public schools; if parents cared about that they could volunteer to help in schools. {Yup, I tried that. I enjoyed it. It didn't solve anything for us, though.} Nor is it developing that intense, almost pedophilic contact with their children. {OH MY. Is this how your mind really works? It's kind of creeping me out a little.} It's to keep their kids away from those of darker shades and non-Evangelical Christian beliefs. Most of these parents don't have great educations to begin with {Hey! I'm SUPER SMRT!), and they want to protect their children from the Godless Communist Socialist beliefs they might encounter out there in the real world.
"Children raised in such kennels {Nice touch!} are perfect for manning the picket lines around abortion clinics and staffing the crowds at teabagging events. They don't think, they can't think, and therefore they are the perfect cannon fodder for wars against health care, or real wars for that matter. Whatever reasons you may have for locking your children in the closet {That horrible, dark, frightening closet called Brooklyn}, Mr. O'Hehir, they're not the reasons that the vast majority of loons are doing it."

(Whoa. Okay. Let's be calm and be kind. It's easy to do, honest. Mr. O'Hehir made it clear that he does not homeschool for religious reasons, and also cited the statistic that only 36% of families that homeschool do so specifically for religious/moral instruction. And that's different than sending them to a private religious school how? And how is that not the right of the parents? And finally, how are you to know that these kids are going to grow up and follow the same path as their parents? You can see the future? Lovely for you, Captain Hateful. Way to get it all out there.)

(Pause while my son, who should be in bed, plays a song on harmonica he titled "Velociraptor Jump." It's as good as it sounds! "Velociraptors jump, Velociraptors sneeze/Velociraptors run and wish they could eat cheese." Anyway, he needs to get back to bed...) (Thank you for the distraction, kid. You're the bee's knees.)

Anyway, that's one of the more extreme replies. (Although let me take a second to give a mean look to the person who called the author a dick because of what he named his kids.) There are a few letters of support, but a ton of letters calling homeschooling parents controlling, selfish, elitist (!) and stupid. Too many based their opinions on "a" (as in, one) homeschooled kid they once met. Here's what I wish I would have seen:

"Wonderful! I'm so glad you're a father who cares about your children and are able to do what you feel is best for your family. It sounds like you are providing many rewarding experiences and opportunities for them. Best wishes to you and your family." (And this is NOT to say that anyone who sends their children to public/private/parochial schools do not care for their kids. What I am saying is everyone should be supportive of families who strive to make the best lives for their children. If your kids are doing well in public school, that's fantastic! If your kids love their private school, that is also fantastic! And if your kids are homeschooling and happy, then, huzzah, fantastic hats off to you as well! We're all parents and we all want our kids to be happy and do well. End of story.)

BUT WAIT! I then decided to take a look at Jezebel. (Oh, timing.) I like Jezebel a lot. I do not, however, like this stupidly-titled article, "Why Are Homeschoolers So Annoying?" Once I got past the title, I agreed with some of the first part of the article. Mr. O'Hehir did make some unkind generalizations about public schools, and I thought those were counterproductive and unnecessary. That, however, was followed by an admission of the real reason the O'Hehirs were turning her off (other than their "snootiness.") Jealousy. That's it. Homeschoolers are annoying because they get to go to museums and learn about Hinduism and be creative and have fun. How dare they.

And don't even get me started on the reader replies to that.

Anyway, I apologize (too late) for this overly-long, poorly written rant. It's just that the overwhelming amount of misinformation, rigidity, and judgmental attitudes (from all sides) is saddening. We're just going to keep on doing what we do for as long as it works, and we'll be happy. I'm grateful that I can stay home with my kids. I'm equally grateful that there is the option to send them to public school, where there are teachers who work hard to share their knowledge and provide a good education for other people's kids. I wish the same for everyone. The end.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lazy List Sunday Night (I Have the Flu, Yo.)

Yoinked from the Deliberate Life blog:


The Well-Trained Mind (Worth it for the recommended reading/resource lists alone.)


The Internet. Sweet, sweet internet.


I've found a use for everything I've ever purchased, so I can't complain about anything at all.


The Lukeion Project: My son did the class on Troy, and we still talk about it.


More Lukeion classes, probably.


I really can't pick just one.


Free international travel. (I don't ask for much.)


Rainbow Resource
. Their catalogue is so thorough, with great reviews on so many books and products.


Teacher File Box. Not homeschool-exclusive, but worksheet-o-riffic and drill-tastic. I say that with much love.


Anyone who reads this: Tag. If you're into that sort of thing.

things could not be better/things could be a little better, yeah.

I had been so sickeningly up-with-people this week. Everything was going beautifully! Lessons were completed, Latin was memorized, books on Magellan were read without complaint. We went to storytime at the library on Tuesday and saw lots of friends there. We went to one of our group game days on Thursday, and although it was supposed to be word game day and my kids refused to move away from Pokemon Monopoly, they had a blast. Friday we went to an apple orchard, and it was just blissful. The kids learned about farming, were able to taste-test different kinds of apples, helped make cider, went on a hayride, and picked their own Winesap apples (yum!) When we got home, we had a huge package from our awesome Greek penpal, Panagiotis, waiting for us. How (how?!) could it possibly get any better than that?
Saturday we all got the flu.

Monday, September 21, 2009

TIHWDI, Pt. 3: Last Week Was Pretty Great

We went to the lovely Outer Banks for a perfect camping trip:

Ian got a spiffy new guitar and is learning to play The Essex Green's "Late Great Cassiopeia" for his guitar school's upcoming show. (I know, he's so cool. That's how we raise them.)

We went to a Greek Festival in Raleigh:

Aaaand we saw They Might Be Giants at the NC Museum of Art's amphitheater!:

Lucky, lucky us.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

This Is How We Do It, Pt. 2: Sunday Night

Right now, I'm preparing the lessons for this week. I'm surrounded by printers, paper, books, and folders, am watching Bottle Rocket, and am already on my third Coke Zero. This is what we're using this week (after the ACTION SHOT!):

Eyewitness Books: North American Indian
Tools of Native Americans (Kavin)
History Pockets: Native Americans (Evan-Moor Publishing, who print many of my favorite resources and are also the people behind Teacher File Box, which I use daily.)
Eyewitness Books: Explorer (for Ian's homeschool group presentation on Magellan)
Explorers Fandex (more Magellan magic)
Ancient Greece (Moore)
Tools of the Ancient Greeks
You Are in Ancient Greece (Minnis)
Spend the Day in Ancient Greece (Honan)
The Ancient Greek World (Roberts/Barrett)
City States (Wright)
History Pockets: Ancient Greece (Evan-Moor)
(Dude, we love Greece.)
+ worksheets from www.teacherfilebox.com

Prima Latina Student Book
Prima Latina Teacher Manual

Grammar & Spelling:
Red Hot Root Words Book 1 (Draze)
Building Spelling Skills 2 (Evan-Moor)
Building Spelling Skills 4 (Evan-Moor)
+ worksheets galore from Teacher File Box

Greek Alphabet Code Cracker (Perrin)

Random House Book of Poetry for Children
The Golden Fleece (Colum)
Independent reading: Ian: Mysterious Benedict Society (Stewart)
Allie: King Arthur tales
Read aloud: Spiderwick Chronicles, Bk 3 (DiTerlizzi/Black)
+ poetry worksheets from Teacher File Box

Find the Constellations (Rey)
DK Guide: Space (Bond)
Atlas of Space (Scholastic Reference)
+ worksheets (Have I mentioned Teacher File Box? Also: NASA's websites)

Homemade worksheets galore.

Writing letters to:
-Penpals (Panagiotis in Greece, Fara, Victoria & Chloe in France, & Roberto and Andreas in Italy)
-pick an author (will let kids decide. Ian wrote a letter to Brian Selznick last year and got a great letter back within a couple of weeks. Let me take a moment to *really* recommend his book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. (Check out the website. Become obsessed with automatons and Georges Melies.) Beautiful. We also love The Houdini Box, and we just found Amelia & Eleanor Go for a Ride, which he only illustrated, but it's wonderful. Check them all out. Do it now.)

Field trips:
Library story time on Tuesday. Will look for more stuff on Magellan & will practice library skills
Friday: Apple picking
(Nothing much planned this week due to the craziness of every week this summer. It's time to slow down a bit. Maybe.)

-Will *finally* start practicing our play about Bellerophon, Pegasus, & the Chimaera. The sets are ready, and the kids are just waiting for me to print out the script they wrote.

They also have daily journal writing, art, music, and recess.
And that's it.

This Is How We Do It, Pt. 1: Your Questions, Satisfactorily Answered

Q: Why do you homeschool? Is it for religious reasons? Do you have a problem with public schools?
A: We do not homeschool for religious reasons, and we don't have problems with the public schools, other than I think they're too crowded. When I pulled Ian out of elementary school in the middle of 2nd grade, there were 26 students in his class. I read an article in the News & Observer the other day that quoted Ian's friend's (and former classmate's) mother saying that there were now 33 students in each class in the 4th grade (Ian's current grade.) I have nothing but respect and awe for teachers, and do not feel that my kids were failed or let down. However, Ian needed particular attention in math and was getting behind, despite hours of homework and tutoring in the evening. He was too advanced in reading and writing, though, and was getting bored with his assignments there. Allie was behind in spelling, but was too far ahead in math. Finally, I feel that by homeschooling, I can offer a broader education, teaching my kids Greek and Latin, mythology, exploration, astronomy, etc., and can cater to their interests and strengths. Finally, we just have a lot of fun. That's the why.

Q: How do you do it? Do you have a schedule?
A: Yes, I do have a schedule. I spend a few hours every Sunday evening preparing lessons, printing worksheets, planning art projects, scheduling field trips, and deciding the subject rotation. Not all homeschoolers do this, but I do because it helps keep me focused and on track. However, I'm not super-strict: if it's a pretty day, we'll spend some time outside reading or exploring. If there's a class or activity organized by our homeschool group, we'll make time for that. If I want to go to the zoo, then darn it, we're going to the zoo. It's not all Spongebob and pajamas, though.

Q: What curriculum do you use?
A: I make my own. I like to be a little flexible in what we do & when we want to do it. If we want to study polar explorers for three months, then we will. (And we did.) Using that same example: I do try to tie in all subjects...For history, we studied the heroic age of polar exploration. For geography, we studied the poles. For science, we studied the climate and life at the poles. For spelling and grammar, we learned words relating to exploration, and I made grammar & punctuation worksheets featuring explorers, stories, Robert Scott's journals (minus the commas and capitalization so the kids could correct it), etc. And so on. We're fortunate that we have a decent library of books to choose from, thanks to great local used/new/independent/homeschool bookstores, a large homeschool population in the area that put their books and supplies on Craigslist regularly and have good yard sales, and of course, Amazon.com.
Another reason we don't use prepackaged curricula is because, as I mentioned before, my kids aren't just on a 4th (or 2nd, or K) grade level in all subjects. Ian tests at an 8th grade level in reading, grammar, and writing, but struggles (and never gives up!) in math. I can give Ian big honkin' books to read and expect more from him in writing, but take our time in math and make sure he understands the concepts before we move on. Allie's the exact opposite: I can't go fast enough in math, but I'll just say that her spelling is adorable and creative and her grammar is free-form, and we have to review constantly to make sure she gets it.

Q: Do you think the kids are getting the socialization skills they need?
A: Yes, or we wouldn't homeschool at all. Strangely, I have the most outgoing, friendly, social, LOUDEST, happiest kids EVER. (Strange because my husband & I both are fairly introverted. The kids always amaze us.) They have lots of friends in the neighborhood and in our huge, busy homeschool group (more on them later.) They go to game days and park days. They have friends over often. Ian has guitar & karate lessons, and Allie will probably start something soon, once she can decide what she wants to do. (Drum lessons? More swim lessons? Back to Girl Scouts? Start karate? I guess we'll see.) So, nope, I'm not at all worried about my well-adjusted, extroverted, mile-a-minute kids.

So. There some very basic answers. I'll expand on each a little throughout the week. (You're welcome!) Right now it's time to crack open a Coke Zero, put in a movie, and start getting ready for the week ahead. I love doing this. I really do.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


A lot of people have been asking a lot of questions lately about our homeschool. We're getting ready to go to the Outer Banks on a camping trip, but when we return I'll start posting more about what we do. I plan on discussing what books we use, how we socialize, our schedule, and how it works for us. Feel free to write with any questions you might have and I'll be giddy to reply.
Have a swell weekend! I'll put up some pictures here when we get back.

"Some days are fancy days." -Allie

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

letters to the president

On Tuesday, like many other schools across the country, we watched President Obama give his speech on education, responsibility, and accountability. We began that day by discussing goals: by defining the word, talking about the difference between short-term and long-term goals, understanding why they're important, and figuring out how we can achieve them. The kids then wrote a paper listing their goals, picked the one they thought was most important, and illustrated it.We followed that by talking a little about the President and why he is qualified to speak about working hard to meet your goals, taking responsibility for your education, and being accountable for your own actions. The kids enjoyed learning about his childhood and thought he was very interesting.It was then time for the speech to begin. My kids paid close attention and were suprisingly quiet throughout. When it was over, they were quick to point out their favorite parts of the talk, how likeable the President seemed, and asked if we could start homeschool at 4:30 in the morning. (Um, nope.) They wanted to know if it would be okay if they wrote a letter to Obama (they love to write letters...more on that in another post), and of course I said that would be wonderful.
Here's what they wrote:

Dear Mr. President,
Thank you for the speech you made about education and responsibility. I liked when you said failure doesn't define us, it teaches us to try again, and when you said how other students became great heroes, inventors, and leaders. Also I liked the story about your mom. I am in 4th grade in homeschool. I like to study Greece. My goal is to become an archaeologist. I liked how your speech inspired me to reach my goal. You do an excellent job as president. I am glad I saw you twice in North Carolina when you were campaigning. Thank you for working so hard for us! Your Friend,

Dear Mr. President,
Thank you for the speech you made about education and responsibility. I liked when you said your mom woke you up a 4:30 in the morning. I also thought it was very inspiring and made me want me to work harder. I also liked how you reminded us to not quit and to keep trying. I am a 2nd grader. I like math and art. When I grow up I'm going to be a zookeeper. Thank you for your work. You are a nice man.
Your friend,
They also enclosed the drawings they made of their most important goal, and Annie, my four year old, included her lovely drawing of her being a famous "arter." Then they addressed the envelope and ran outside to put it in the mailbox. They told me they should hear back from Obama "in about a week." I told them to relax and be extra-patient.

I thought it was a terrific, inspirational speech that was perfectly targeted to any school-aged child. And it motivated me to be a better teacher.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

you're welcome for the most pretentious kid update ever

I was stringing tape around the baseboards of the girls' room so I can paint tonight, and I overheard my seven year old daughter teaching my four year old daughter Latin vocabulary. Adorable.
That's all for now. We've been too busy to update, which is a good thing, I think.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mercy on us, little children...!

We found a copy of Myths Every Child Should Know (1905) on Amazon...for $1. It was edited by HW Mabie, and has a few stories from Nathaniel Hawthorne's Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys. Hawthorne's writing is so playful and gentle in these retellings, and my kids (although quick to point out the gorier stuff he omitted) are as crazy about them as I am...his joy is contagious. You can read his tale of our beloved Chimaera here.

According to Allie's wanted poster: Catch the Chimera, get a kingdom, the princess, $200 and a dog. How could Bellerophon say no? (Answer: He couldn't. Man needs a dog.)

We're taking a break tomorrow. The kids are having friends over for water balloon/water gun fights, and we're going to eat cookies (Christmas cookies in August!) and be merry. Thursday we'll be back to work, and will hopefully get the play finished then. The sets are mostly done, and I have to say, they're pretty fantastic.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Four year olds are the best storytellers.

The girls and I were sitting in the waiting room, waiting for Ian to finish his guitar lesson for the week. Allie was drawing, filling her sketch book with daisies and smiling puppies, loving family and happy owls. Annie was drawing, too. She was sketching a story while she was telling it. It went something like this:
"I am the princess. I am the daughter of the king. I have a golden bride and I ride Pegasus all around. Then one sad day I got stolen. I got stolen all the way to Egypt. The mean men left me in the desert and I was lost. I was surrounded by camel balls."
"You were surrounded by what, dear?" I asked delicately, noticing that the other parents in the room had grown very quiet and were working hard to not look at us.
"CAMEL BALLS. Camel balls were EVERYWHERE!" Annie yelled dramatically, flinging her arms over her head and spinning around. She stopped and looked at me so, so seriously.
"They were going to EAT ME."
I sighed.
"You're talking about 'cannibals,' aren't you?"
"YES! And then Pegasus flew all the way from Greece and saved me and then I flew up to France on vacation. The end."

We've been working like little bees on our play, which we hope to have ready on Monday. I'll put it up here when it's done. It's going to be a winner, I promise!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


We just got back from our favorite used bookstore in Raleigh, where we picked up children's books a-plenty: several books by Roger Lancelyn Green, a beautiful book on the history of the Statue of Liberty, two books on Troy, one lovely illustrated hardcover on King Arthur, one on Greek heroes, and one on fractions. The kids also picked up some personal reading...a few Goosebumps, Gregor the Overlander, Little House books, and a cute polar bear story for Annie. (And a book on Spacemen 3 for me, because I refuse to grow up.) All totalled up, we spent slightly less than $30. That makes today a good day, in spite of having to barefoot-chase our escaped dogs all over the neighborhood, having guests show up unexpectedly, and being kind of sleepy. Yes, indeed, that definitely made up for it.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go stand over a vent and cool off.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

space is the place

If any of you knew us before we got our new house in May, you would know how giddy I am, all the time, that I have this space. We went from having a corner of the living room in a 1200 square foot house to having a spacious, open loft. It's a tingly little thrill, every time I walk upstairs. I have a lot planned, but I'm pleased with the way it's coming along so far.

Blackboard in mid-air. (Actually, it's painted on a white wall, but that's not very interesting.) We're going to put molding around the board...I think it will look much nicer then. We're also going to paint the room, but I'm not sure when. It depends on whether or not I can ever make up my mind. I've got eight different shades of blue-grey on the front room wall, and it's been that way for a month. It looks modern and artsy, and I might just leave it like that.
Learning! Mission accomplished.

more excuses

Sooo. We have been doing some really nifty work, and we got our class set up a little more (thank you, Ikea.) I'll post some pictures later. Right now, I'm enjoying summer. Iced tea and a good breeze and a good game of Mouse Trap with the kids. Perfect.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Our AC is out, and has been for several hot, miserable, mean days. Am waiting for the repairman, the repairman who was supposed to be here at 8:00 am. I'll update when I can do it without complaining about the heat and how hot I am and how hot the house is, etc. Hot. Hothothot.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Who We Are

Hi. My name is Sarah. I'm a 33 year old mom of three swell little kids. (Aren't all little kids swell? Indeed.) We live in North Carolina, in a little town just north of Raleigh. It's a great place to live, especially if you grew up in eastern Kentucky and don't ask for/expect much. We began homeschooling my oldest son, Ian, in January of 2008, halfway through his second grade year. My middle daughter, seven year old Allison, joined us last month, at the end of her first grade year. Our school is The Ashland School, named after the city in KY where my son was born, and our mascot (also chosen by the very cool Ian) is the Fighting Chimeras. (Aren't all Chimeras fighting? Yes, probably.)
See our t-shirts? Sharpies and cheap tees are the bee's knees. We made these for a homeschool group zoo trip. We are very fortunate that we live in an area with a very active, large homeschool community. The group is well-organized and there's always (always!) something going on, thanks to a bunch of energetic, creative parents. A poorly-edited but nice article about the group can be found here.
The purpose of this blog is to keep family and friends up-to-date, to share neat things we find and do, and to keep a record of our kids' education. We've had a blast (a very educational blast) so far, and we're looking forward to all the possibilities each day brings.
This week I'll write a bit more about what we study, how we do it, why we homeschool, and will update the status of our classroom. (We just moved in to our new house a month ago, and have a large loft that serves as our class. So far, we have three desks, a ton of books, and have painted a blackboard on the wall, but we have lots more planned. Ideas are welcome!)
Right now, it's time to get everyone settled down. Bedtime is in an hour, and then I'm going to relax, listen to some music, and get this place cleaned up. Huzzah.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Fresh Start

I've tried this blog twice before, and each time I've given up on it, so swamped with everything else that's going on that it doesn't even merit a run-on sentence or hastily-taken picture. I'm proud to say that I've relaxed my blog standards enough that a sentence or sorry-looking photo will do just fine. Welcome to The Ashland School Fighting Chimeras Homeschool Bloggery!