Sunday, November 27, 2011


Today I spent some time updating my sidebar to reflect what curricula the boys are each currently using. We are using a few new programs this year for the first time: Tapestry of Grace (TOG), Growing with Grammar (GWG), Elemental Science (ES) and Writing with Ease (WWE) being the main ones.

Tapestry has me still in what I have heard called "The Tapestry Fog" and I have not managed to navigate my way out just yet. One of the many strengths of TOG is that it's a buffet. One of its weaknesses is that it's a buffet. ;) It takes time to figure out just how to use this program and for each family it looks a bit different. I have developed a Weekly Planning Page which I am hoping will help me use TOG more effectively. Tomorrow we begin week 16 of school but only week 6 of TOG. Clearly we need to do better here.

Growing With Grammar has been a hit with Haddon. I.just.couldn' ;) I don't know what it is, but FLL wasn't a good fit for us. GWG has been a breath of fresh air. I am more CM in my approach to grammar (delayed start to formal lessons) and have loved JAG and JAG: Mechanics with Thatcher. I plan on taking the same path with Haddon when he gets to 4th and 5th grade, but in the meantime GWG takes five minutes a day or less, is painless and very gentle. Haddon is a workbook kid and loves the satisfaction of a completed page in front of him and I like knowing I am not leaving grammar out completely. With Thatch I had more time to discuss his readings and roll more "informal" or "incidental" grammar into our daily lessons across all subjects. Now that I am schooling all three GWG helps me know I am covering the basics until we get to JAG in a few years.

Writing With Ease has been great. I really wanted a program I could stick with from start to finish and Susan Wise-Bauer has really filled a hole in the world of homeschool curricula in that respect. Haddon has done beautifully in Level 1 and truly enjoys writing each day. Yes, a first grader, not to mention a boy, who adores writing! Wohoo!!! At the start of the year, I put Thatcher in Writing with Skill, Level 1 (SWB's next level in her program designed to be started around 5th grade). Even though we completed Writing Tales 1 and lots of outlining in SOTW 4 last yearWWS was still just too much. I spent a few weeks trying to build some skills that would help him be more successful but in the end decided to back up a full level to WWE 4. It was a rough start. But we are about to begin week 10, and Thatcher is showing solid growth. I couldn't be more pleased and look forward to using this program for years to come.

I hope to post great things about Elemental Science soon, but we have not started it yet this year (a huge blushing face would really come in handy here ;) Thatcher's ADHD has been especially challenging this year as his core subjects have really ramped up and he has struggled academically for the first time since we started homeschooling seven years ago. We have always struggled to be consistent in history and especially in science and this year has proved no different. This coming week we are trying a new schedule where we do history and science FIRST thing in the morning. It is already stressing me out just to think about not jumping straight into math and writing (Thatcher's subjects that require the most concentration out of him) but we are going to try it. I reserve the right to change my mind though! :)

Well, just a few new things around SSA. Hope your week gets off to a great start tomorrow.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Now I Get It

It has been seven months since my last blog post. So many times I have thought how I would love to blog about this or that. I miss blogging; I truly do. Back when I started this blog in 2007 I didn't think I had much to share. I had only been homeschooling a few years, and my oldest was in first grade. I remember thinking back then that I wish there were more veteran homeschoolers in the blogosphere. Most bloggers seemed to be like me, in the first few years of their journey. Now that I feel like I have a bit more to share (although I know in the grand scheme of things I am still a newbie in most respects) I just don't have time - or haven't had the discipline to make the time, I should say.

Days fill up quickly. They really do. This year I am homeschooling all three boys. Thatcher is in 5th grade, Haddon in 1st, and Beckett is in Kindergarten. I wake up at 5:00 each day to have time to read my Bible, exercise on the treadmill and grab a quick shower before the boys are up at 7:00. Then it's chores, breakfast, discipleship and we're off. We are schooling to 4:00 most days. Whatever is not done by 4:00 typically doesn't get done until the next day. I know for some school doesn't take that long but with an ADHD'er in the mix it just does for us. Then it's time to pick up and start dinner. After dinner this fall we were heading to the baseball and/or soccer fields Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights plus games on Saturdays. We have always had a rule that each child would only participate in one sport/activity at a time but with three boys - three practices and three games each week meant six outside commitments. We get home and then it's time for baths and bed - for the boys AND for me! :)

Homeschooling is harder than I ever thought it would be. This year has just about eaten my lunch in so many ways. Most of my friends are experiencing similar feelings of exhaustion and/or burnout. Yet at the same time, it is good. I am still thankful for the blessing of homeschooling my boys...most days anyway ;) Dh and I had a great conversation recently which pushed me out of a pity party I had been having with myself and set me back on a better path.

The whole reason for this post was mostly to say, "Hello!" I am still here. Still homeschooling. Still thinking about all I would love to share. Happy Thanksgiving to any readers I still may have. I hope your week off is full of blessings, restfulness and time to recharge. This blog post is the start of that for me.