All About Spelling

I broke down and bought it. I did. I ordered the first two books plus the kit and am now awaiting their arrival. I’ve tried for the past two years to try to make a go of it with Spelling Power and the Writing Road to Reading. Both are terrific, WRTR is an amazing manual (I like an older edition that comes with phonogram cards) but it just wasn’t working as well as I would have liked.

My children are both fantastic readers and have always spelled phonetically – the things I’m looking forward to most are the fact that with AAS the rules of why things are spelled a certain way are explained. I think that alone will make this program a big hit.

I will certainly post updates as to how the program works for us. I understand that there are a lot of AAS reviews and I think I may have read each and every one when I was debating and going back and forth on whether or not to make this relatively pricey investment (I’m a notoriously frugal person) but I decided it was better to give it a try than keep spending the money on programs or books that don’t work well for us and have wound up on a particular shelf in my homeschool area where homeschool materials go to die. The reviews helped me greatly in deciding to go ahead with this purchase and I hope I may be able to assist someone in the future myself.

Another one bites the dust

Back? Yes, thank you.


After we moved (successfully) I released my new book and began working on a new one. My Macbook kicked the bucket (I don’t have very good luck with computers, it seems), and I stayed pc-less for many months. I would go on my husband’s from time to time to get some library books for my Kindle, but beyond that I stayed off. After a tense first week, I was happy. I played with my children, I crafted, I baked a lot, I discovered I was allergic to gluten, I came up with recipes for some new skincare products, tried them out, tweaked them, and tried again and again until I got them how I wanted. The dog chewed up my sewing machine power cord, so I’ve been hand sewing, I mastered the art of gluten-free pizza dough, and tried to learn how to play Sudoku (didn’t happen).


We homeschool all year (by all year I mean we homeschool through the summer and take our short breaks here and there throughout the fall and early spring), and it’s the most wonderful time of the year! The time where I research and choose curriculum, then do some more research and feel confident in my choice, or change my mind and spend so much time on my favorite homeschool curricula online stores that I’ve been spending the last week perusing Cathy Duffy‘s site, the forums over at the Well-Trained Mind, and reading over various reviews found during a google search.


I’m truly excited for this upcoming homeschooling year. I’m looking forward to introducing my children to all the newness ahead.


Farewell Matt Smith

Doctor Who fans – if you haven’t yet watched ‘The Time of the Doctor”, this post contains spoilers.


Tom Baker was my first doctor. The one who I watched on PBS as a teenager in the 80’s. His slouchy hat, his curly hair, and that fantastic scarf. His big blue eyes. Now, on occasion, I like to check out his website and admire the photos he shares of his pets.

Then after E. and I got married, Doctor Who was back again and Christopher Eccleston was the Doctor. Not my favorite. I watched though, because it was Doctor Who. And then something special happened. David Tennant became the Doctor and what a joy he was to behold as the Doctor. I was heartbroken when he left.

Matt Smith arrived on the scene, a doctor younger than me – that was a little strange, but I quickly fell for his quirkiness, his charm, his wonderful way with children, the fantastic chemistry he and Karen Gillan had, the love between him and River, and that smile that just told you he was having a blast. My 8 year old fell in love with Matt Smith’s Doctor and is beyond distraught that he has left. She cried and cried and wrote a fervent plea to Matt Smith to return as the Doctor. I’ve thought about mailing it to him, care of, his manager/agent/person, but I haven’t yet.

E. had to work on the twenty fifth, so we celebrated our Christmas on the twenty sixth. After stockings were emptied, and presents unwrapped, after a relaxing sit down dinner, we watched “The Time of the Doctor” and I lost it when he said, “I will not forget one line of this. Not one day. I swear,”  and “I will always remember when the Doctor was me.”. And then when Amy reappeared, touched his face and murmured “Raggedy Man. Goodnight.”




On that note, I end this one. We greatly enjoyed your time as the Doctor, Matt Smith, and there is at least one 8 year old who misses you desperately.


A history rich in Advent

As a child I received many advent calendars from my father’s parents. Every year that I would get one, I would gaze at them reverently, for they weren’t the cheaply made, mass produced items put out in the states. No, these were hand-made more often than not, richly colored in jeweled hues, with beautifully decorated picture work and thoughtful little treats a small child would be able to happily place in a secret box, or drawer and look at from time to time. My grandparents would buy them during their yearly trips abroad, most often in Norway where my grandmother had been born and raised.


As I grew older the giving of the calendars didn’t ebb away but continued yearly. I looked forward to them immensely. After my grandfather suffered a permanently debilitating stroke, the calendars stopped; my grandmother no longer traveled. A few years ago, after she, too, passed away, I found an older advent calendar from C.S. Lewis’s “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” on ebay. I ordered it, and we hang it up yearly so perhaps my children will grow up in the same tradition and in the hope of them having a memory like I do one day.



I dreamed of the advent calendars last night, I dreamed that I was a child again, looking at them again, but with more of an appreciation for the ongoing, consistent thoughtfulness of my grandparents who knew of the fascination the calendars held for me. They, truly, became something I looked forward to every year.


They were the one magical part of Christmas that the holiday held for me. My mother had told me from the time I was a toddler that Santa Claus did not exist. I recall my Christmases – they were often boring, dreary days where I would be found reading on the couch, or in my bedroom. As I grew up, I went to the movies on Christmas or out with friends.


After having children of my own, I found a love for Christmas from a place I did not know I possessed. A happiness in picking out thoughtful gifts for my children and husband that I knew they would enjoy. A peacefulness in sharing this time of year with little people who DID believe in Santa Claus. And I realized that Santa exists where you let him. That my husband and I are Santa when we wrap presents, place them under the tree late Christmas Eve, when we sprinkle reindeer dust (uncooked oatmeal with glitter) on the lawn, when we leave carrots for Santa to take to the reindeer, and cookies or chocolate cake for Santa.


Christmas Eve holds magic for me. A night filled with warmth, and the happiness I derive from carefully placing presents under the tree, from filling stockings, and eating the snacks the children leave out for the Christmas travelers. When everything is done I like to put the tree lights on, sit on the couch, sip some tea and look. We don’t go overboard on gifts; we plan a budget out each year and stick to it. I generally like to keep it under $60. per child. For us, although Santa is a presence, Christmas holds a deeper meaning.


I wanted my children to believe in Santa; I wanted Christmas in my house to be a joyous day, full of surprise and appreciation.

Tales of Narnia and homeschool woes.

I’m a bad blogger – I freely admit it. I started out, blogging frequently. Then the consistency stopped – we were moving and life grew even more chaotic than usual. Packing and planning. Then a few-day car trip with me and my children in one vehicle and the husband in the moving van. Unpacking, trying to turn new space homey. Organizing. Refilling my pantry, and picking up absolute must-haves. Holidays. Presents. Also homeschooling this year hasn’t been going as well as I had hoped – we love our Math and History, but everything else is just ‘meh’. Bland and uninspired.


I’ve been toying with ideas of new curriculum. I’m thinking about Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well-Trained Mind approach of classical education, as well as tweaking AmblesideOnline for a secular education, and also wondering about Oak Meadow. I want to raise readers; I grew up reading  – I read voraciously and this was a pleasure that I indulged in freely, reading age-appropriate as well as books far beyond my maturity level. I remember vividly the day that the Scholastic book form came into my fourth grade classroom. I looked through the books and set my eyes on the Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. I was intrigued and wanted that box set. I went home, clutching the book form and showed it to my parents in the hopes that they would bite, and allow me to order it. They did, and I waited for the arrival of those books like a child awaits the beginning of vacation, or their birthday.

They finally arrived, and I tucked them away carefully in my desk, not opening them. When school let out for the day and I was finally home, I removed the plastic wrapping and began reading. I fell in love with those books, and as much as I wanted to find out what happened, I never wanted them to end either. When the last book was finished, I put it with the other back into the box, and set it on my bookshelf.



I re-read those books every year. However, you only have one opportunity to read the Chronicles for the first time, and this past year, I read them to my children, thrilling at their interest and delight over their first time of experiencing the stories. (By the way, one of my daughters has the name of Aravis, taken from The Horse and His Boy).

These books (pictured  below) are 31 years old now. I got them when I was 9 and I recently turned 40. I can’t read them again, they’re far too delicate for that, but I can’t get rid of them either. I plan on getting another box set with full color illustrations, and I will put these away, in the same place my favorite childhood stuffed animals are.



I truly hope to pass the love-reading trait along to my children.



What methods/curriculum work well for your family? Are you raising children who love to read? Do you incorporate living books into your homeschool? Do you piece together curriculum to tailor your family’s specific requirements, or do you find that boxed curriculum works?  I’d love to read to your feedback!