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.

 

IMG_3469

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!

Here’s the part where I come back after being gone for months.

And here’s a recap of what this is all about. 

This blog is all about how I clean my house, exercise six days a week, homeschool, and make perfect crafty gifts for holidays and birthdays, as well as putting a gourmet meal on the table for dinner every night. Oh, and let’s not forget about the fact that I make all my housecleaning products by hand. All, while being a perfectly appreciative wife and doing what I can to further martyr myself. 

 

No. That’s not me.  At all. That will never be me, unless I’m lobotomized for some reason, and even then, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Okay – I do homeschool, and I love to make crafts (except when they turn out horribly and they so often seem to do just that), and I do make my own cleaning products but only because I have really sensitive skin and chemical smells give me an almost instant headache. I do appreciate my husband, but I love that his hours are such that I usually get a nice hunk of time to myself each night – a couple hours of me-time. Peacefully sleeping children, a new library book to read, or a stupid adventure movie on netflix. 

 

I don’t wake up each day with a smile on my face, or with one in my heart. I’m angry about certain things, and I’m scared. Of a lot. I used to think that when I was an adult I wouldn’t have to be frightened of anything. What a laugh that turned out to be; I had no idea that the time for true stress was coming up. Not to come across as a drama queen, but just basic adult/parent worries. 

 

I rarely cook gourmet meals – I adore eating them however.  But prepping, cooking, and washing up is so not my idea of a good time.  Only the eating is. But that never lasts as long as the following cleaning up does. I’m trying to grow out a super short haircut and it’s currently in a terribly awkward stage.

 

A lot of things I’ve tried haven’t worked (i.e.; moving to a small island in the PNW and trying our hand at country living with chickens) which I will delve further into in future posts. But I keep coming back to try more, and you know why? Because when it does work, it’s the most wonderfully fantastic feeling in the world. 

 

I’ve been very busy these past few months – we moved (it went well with DC’s allergies, thankfully), I finally finished my final edit of the manuscript I’d been working on and released a novel (YAY!!!!),  and I’ve been working daily since then – homeschooling, acclimating to our new city, and writing. If you’ve stuck around all this time, or are only just finding me, I appreciate it immensely and look forward to blogging a bit more frequently than I’ve done these months. 

 

 

 

Spelling…

As much as I love my Kindle (and I really, really do adore it) there is one instance when only a book will suffice.

Let me start this off by conveying to you my immense loathing of shopping. Picture it if you will – when it’s time for new clothes, I hold off as long as possible and then head to the thrift store. It’s also the thrift shop or Land’s End overstock for the children (my husband is 6’5, so all his clothing we generally buy new, it’s not often I’m able to locate his sizes).

I used to have a soft spot for purses – Coach. At One point I had seven different Coach bags, but this was when I was single and far more flush. I love living frugally. I actually have fun researching where the best price for something is, but there is one aspect of life where I want to buy just everything appealing (and so, sooooo much of it is) – homeschool supplies. Programs, a box full of books delivered to my door. When my children were younger, it was the boxes of fluffy mail I waited for with bated breath, now, I know what true happiness is when I place some homeschool orders. Piecing together a curriculum, using the best items for my types of little learners at the best prices I can find is certainly a satisfying endeavor. But, oh, how I occasionally long to spend like I used to, on homeschool needs.

Example in point – my children are currently seven and eight – I’ve read fantastic things about All About Spelling, but I’ve also heard quite a few negatives. Being as frugal as I am, I don’t want to spend $60. on a relatively new product to find out whether or not this is a program that works for us. My children spell quite well, orally – writing or typing out the words correctly is the issue. I’m currently looking at the The Writing Road to Reading, which teaches the Spalding Method. I’ve read that AAS is basically a simplified teaching of these rules – I don’t know how accurate that is, as I have no experience with either. The only negative I’ve read about utilizing the Spalding Method is that it can be difficult to ‘get‘, and difficult to implement if you prefer a scripted method.

I’m intrigued by AAS though, and think we’ll wind up with it eventually.

What do you use for spelling? How many programs did you try before finding one that worked for your child(ren)?

Dreaming in Spanish

I nearly failed my Spanish class in high school. It was a choice between Spanish and French, and I chose Spanish, thinking it would be a far more practical choice, given the large Hispanic population I lived near. I had passing fantasies of going to culinary school and becoming a baker, and in every restaurant kitchen I know of, Spanish is a requirement, if you want to actually communicate with anyone.

 

So anyway, I barely passed. I had the worst accent my Spanish teacher, Senor Tom had ever heard in more than twenty years of teaching and to add insult to that, I couldn’t roll my “R’s”. Just couldn’t do it. I soldiered through in class, injured my verbal assignments; when I would stand in front of the class, I could see Senor Tom cringe whenever I spoke. I got to go on the class trip, to what turned out to be the tamest, least Hispanic restaurant in the county, probably the entire state. No self respecting Hispanic people ate there. I discovered the really good place about fifteen years after graduation. A friend, from Brazil, took me to a tiny, hole in the wall, that served the most authentic food I had ever eaten, Hispanic people were there for every meal they were open, ordering in their flawless espanol, while I ordered with my still-horrible fumbling attempts. I took all my friends, and went on numerous dates there. I think it got to the point where the staff would check out whoever I was with, since I never brought the same guy in twice.

 

After I got married, I took my husband there, and then my husband and my increasing pregnant belly. My cravings were almost always for the vegetable burrito, with no leche. The most delicious thing ever. A year later, that craving was back, with my next pregnancy. A year or so after that, the craving had returned, even though my uterus was unoccupied, but unfortunately the restaurant had closed. I was broken hearted, having never found any restaurant that could compare.

 

I still wish I could speak Spanish. I imagine ordering the Rosetta Stone program or something similar, to teach myself and daughters. In this daydream, my accent is perfection and my “R’s” are rolled like a pro.