Monday, August 31, 2009

Our First Day!!

Today was it – the first day of school 2009-2010.  And it was even better than I could have imagined.  We had donuts for breakfast as a treat.  The kids got their chores done without any prompting at all.  They started their schoolwork and stayed with it until it was all finished.

Rosie Girl worked independently without needing any prompting from me today.  She did have a few questions, but otherwise did quite well.  Wild Man read out loud to me and I read his History book to him.  I gave him a Geography workbook to do, and he did the entire lesson and only missed a couple of questions.  His dyslexia showed up by his writing his “p”s backwards, but I’m thrilled that he was able to answer the questions on his own, even the short-answer questions.

Rosie Girl asked me a few days ago if she could start wearing make-up.  I rarely wear make-up, although I have started to do so more frequently.  I never really considered that Rosie Girl might want to, so I was kind of taken off guard when she asked.  We’ve never set a definite age when she could start, so I didn’t have an immediate answer.

The question did present a great opportunity to talk about beauty and the importance of our beauty coming from inside of us.  Rosie Girl seemed to pretty clearly understand the Bible’s emphasis on our character being more important than our appearance.  She’s interested in using make-up to cover her acne and enhance her eyes.

Today, I took her to the store, and we bought her some make-up of her own.  (She actually had some from dance recitals, but it was all old and had to be thrown away.  Besides, it was kind of cool to make a little event out of this.)  We had a little lesson in make-up application tonight (which is, unfortunately, a little like the blind leading the blind, but I only tried to teach the basics, so I don’t think I did any real damage).  Rosie Girl did a great job of using the make-up to just enhance her natural features.

Tomorrow is the start of public school, so the kids have their first day of classes there.  Rosie Girl is quite nervous.  We prayed with her tonight and have reassured her that all the other freshman are just as nervous.  Her classes are second and third period, so she will be home well before lunch.  Wild Man’s class is right after lunch.  I’m looking forward to tomorrow – more great homeschooling and some adventures at public school!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Almost Ready!!

We start school in this house on August 31, and I am shocked to realize that I will probably be ready!!  All the books and supplies are purchased and put away.  The schedules are almost completely done.  Next Monday, I will meet with each child individually for “orientation” where I will go over their books and types of assignments so they are ready to go on Day 1.  This is particularly important for Rosie Girl since she’s working pretty independently this year.

I have made up a set of grading scales for Rosie Girl’s assignments.  The scales are from 1 to 5 and for such topics as content, completion, labs, etc.  I’ve also decided now how much each item in a course is worth.  At the end of the year, I’ll take her grades and do a weighted average and assign a grade.  While I’ve never been big on grades, Rosie Girl really likes to know exactly what is expected of her and when.  Doing this work on the front end will, I hope, lead to less angst on the back end.

Rosie Girl: For history, she will be doing Core 100 from Sonlight which uses the History of US by Hakim as the spine.  I will have her also read the notes that come with the curriculum and answer about half of the questions in the notes.  I also got the test packet from Amazon and she will do a test about once a month.  In the spring, I’ll have her do a research project, probably with the WriteAtHome workshop.  She and Wild Man will both learn the states, and I have Maps, Charts, and Graphs Book H for her to do.  She also will do a weekly Current Events oral or written report.

Her English course has a lot of components.  She will do composition with WriteAtHome online.  But, I still have her doing the literature portion of Sonlight Core 100, so she will read the books and answer some of the accompanying questions (as well as discussing them with me).  She will do Daily Grams Junior/Senior High, Analogies, and Wordly Wise as well.

Science is Singapore Biology with Castle Heights Biology Lab.  Singapore Biology comes with a workbook and I’m making up a few tests to give throughout the year.  The biology lab includes some microscope work as well as dissection.  At the end of the year, I will have her do some reading on the Creation/Evolution debate.

She will do Sonlight Core 100 Bible which involves a Bible Study Sampler with daily reading and questions along with several other books about prayer and faith.  Math is Life of Fred Beginning Algebra that she will do with her dad.  She will take Art and Chorus at the local public school and do Latin online with PowerSpeak.

Wild Man:  Wild Man will do Core 3+4 which uses The Landmark History of the American People as the spine.  I will probably do most of the reading from this book to him, although he is able to read from his readers on his own a good bit now.  He will learn the states with his sister and do Maps, Graphs, and Charts Book E

His Language Arts uses the Sonlight readers and Grammar Ace from Sonlight.  He will also use All About Spelling, Explode the Code, and Getty-Dubay Handwriting.  For Bible, he’s doing Bible Quest – Promises Fulfilled: Luke and Acts.  I anticipate that we will do that together since it involves a lot of writing.

Science is Crime Scene Investigations.  I have gone through and found the investigations that we will be able to do here at home and ordered the supplies that we need.  I think it’s going to be great!

He will do Math Mammoth with his dad as well as PowerSpeak Spanish.  He’s already done his summer band lessons at the middle school and will be taking band class two days a week.

Getting all this ready and putting the schedules (except the Sonlight part) into Homeschool Tracker has taken far more than the last week, so this isn’t exactly a week in review.  It’s more like a summer in review!  I’m feeling generally ready to go.  This week is my meetings with the kids to introduce them to all the new stuff.  They also have open house at the public school to find their classrooms there.  It’s the week of the Fair, so our town will be busy, although my kids are no longer involved in the Fair.

Check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see what others have been up to – mostly people who have actually started their school year!!



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

To Grade or Not To Grade . . . .

. . . that is the question for this homeschooling mom!!  I am philosophically not a fan of grading, generally believing in an unstructured lifestyle of learning approach to homeschooling.  But things are changing around here.  Rosie Girl needs the structure of knowing what is expected and when.  I need concrete measuring guides for consistency.

One of the really nice things about Mr. Math Tutor having gone back to school to get his teaching certificate is that he learned some good stuff about evaluating students.  For one thing, the purpose of evaluating students is to improve teaching, NOT to determine whether they are doing well or poorly.  In other words, we don’t evaluate to give a grade.  At this point in Rosie Girl’s life, I will give grades so that it’s nice and easy to make a transcript.  Each weekly evaluation, though, is intended to help her see what she needs to do to improve her performance and to help me see where I need to improve teaching.  Grading is to improve my teaching and her learning, not to put a grade on the paper.

Right now, I’m feeling rather overwhelmed by the entire idea of grading.  I’ve read through lots of Sonlight forums to see how other families do it.  This year, we’re going to have to be more structured than previously.  My plan right now is to do some kind of weekly evaluation of most of her subjects.  She’ll also be taking some tests and writing papers.  I’ll be spending this week sorting out how I’ll be doing the evaluating.  Pray for me!!

So, the answer to the question is, Yes, to grade.  But, to grade to help a child learn, not just to have a grade in a grade book.

Friday, August 14, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday – august 14, 2009

1. My kids are on a Lord of the Rings kick.  Not only are we reading Fellowship of the Ring as a family, but the kids have been watching the movies with commentary.  It’s kind of fun for me to experience them again, but this time with the kids.

2. In an attempt to get ready for the school year, I put up a US map next to our World Map in the dining room.  It’s the only place with enough wall space, and it also sparks great mealtime conversation.  I want the kids to learn the states and some US geography in addition to US history this year.


3. Our DVD player died today so the kids had an impromptu electronics lesson – i.e. they took the DVD player apart!


4. Wild Man is done with summer band lessons but Rosie Girl has her dance intensive next week for four days.  She only takes tap during the school year, but she still enjoys the summer dance intensive where she does some ballet and jazz as well.

5. This weekend is Rock the City where we have our church service at the park.  Mr. Math Tutor will be playing bass guitar and Wild Man will be dancing with the Worship and Music group.  There’s a pig roast followed by a baptism service.  At least this year, it looks to be nice and warm.  The year that Wild man was baptized, it was in the low 60s and drizzly!

5. I’ve been trying to walk for 10-30 minutes in the morning to perk myself up and I’m happy to say that it’s working.  Of course, Wednesday and Thursday this week were migraine days so I didn’t do much of anything, but the walking most other days helps get me going so there’s a chance I can have lunch ready by noon.

6. We start our school year in two and a half weeks.  I really want to have the kids desks clean and organized, but I haven’t gotten it done yet.  Most of the assignments are planned, though.

7. Our little garden is still producing.  We’ve been eating green beans and onions lately  The cucumbers and tomatoes are coming along nicely.



Go check out 7 Quick Takes Friday to see what others have to say !! 

Monday, August 10, 2009

Review – Your Jesus Is Too Safe

Your Jesus Is Too Safe

In Matthew 16:15, Jesus asks his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?”  That’s a question that we, as Christians, need to ask ourselves today.  For too many of us, Jesus is a great teacher or self-help guru.  As Michael Card said (in “Know You in the Now”), “We’ve made You in our image, so our faith’s idolatry.”  Indeed, the Jesus that shows up too often in middle class America looks an awful lot like a middle class American!!

Jared Wilson wrote Your Jesus Is Too Safe to help us start to better understand who Jesus is and develop a true understanding of the Gospel.  And he’s done an excellent job!  He has twelve chapters, each of which discusses an aspect of Jesus – e.g. Jesus as Shepherd, Jesus as Lord, Jesus as Savior, etc. – to help us find who Jesus really is.

Here are some things I found particularly of interest.  In “Jesus the Man”, Jared skillfully deals with the tension between Jesus’ divinity and humanity.  So many of us as Evangelicals don’t like to think about Jesus being truly human, but our picture of Jesus is incomplete without really understanding this part of Him.  Jared gives a nice birds’ eye view of Jesus’ life and then discusses why Jesus’ humanity was so important.

One of my favorite chapters was “Jesus the Provision”.  As a stay-at-home Mom who enjoys cooking (and has kids who enjoy cooking), I spend a lot of time thinking about food, purchasing food, trying to save money on food, cooking meals, cleaning up from meals, etc. (you get the picture).  In this chapter, Jared shows how Jesus ministry was often based around meals and then goes on to discuss how Jesus is our provision.  He weaves into this both the Gospel and the sacraments.  Powerful stuff.

Jared Wilson’s writing is clear and easy to understand.  He uses a number of cultural references, not all of which I understood, but I’m pretty sure that’s because I’m a 42 year old homemaker and not a 28 year old hip, urban single.  I did have issue with one thing.  He inserted a good bit of humor, which was fine, except that sometimes it came right in the middle of a serious passage and was rather jarring.  I think a little more discretion in the use of humor could have made some of those spots more effective.

So, I give this book an A+ in my rating scale.  It is not hard to read, but it is meaty stuff.  This book has motivated me to go back to the Gospels and re-evaluate my picture of Jesus.  Have I made Him in my image?  Or have I allowed Scripture to speak for itself?

Your Jesus Is Too Safe is on sale now.  Enjoy!  And check out Jared’s website and blog!


Jared C. Wilson is a pastor and an award-winning writer whose articles, essays, and short stories have appeared in numerous publications.
A minister for over a decade, he has become known for his passionate gospel-centered teaching and strong calls for missional Christianity.
Jared's book Your Jesus is Too Safe is now available from Kregel Publications wherever Christian books are sold.
Encounter his passion for the ongoing reformation of the evangelical church almost daily at

Menu Plan Monday – August 10, 2009


I’m back to planning meals for the week again.  During the last couple of weeks, I’ve been able to make some food to put into the freezer so we’ll have some yummy meals during the school year, even when I have headaches.

Our family has also started having our main meal at lunchtime instead of supper.  This has been working well because Mr. Math Tutor works online until lunch and then generally has his face-to-face clients after school is out.  It was hard for us last year to have dinner all together, so we decided to try having lunch together.  We’ve been doing it for about a week and really enjoying it.  I kind of feel like my main task for the day (cooking the main meal) is done nice and early so the rest of the day is free (for exciting stuff like laundry – so maybe it’s not really so free!).

Here’s what I have planned for this week:

1. Hoisin Chicken with green beans and sweet corn (from the garden)

2. Spaghetti

3. Spinach pie (and I’ll probably make an extra one to put in the freezer)

4. Garlic Roast Chicken with Vegetables

5. Leftovers

6. Leftovers

7. Lunch at Rock the City

Check out what others are planning at Menu Plan Monday!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

I think I’m sexist

Some of my favorite TV shows are the Food Network competitions shows like Chopped and Next Food Network Star.  I’ve noticed that I have a sexist streak in me while watching these shows.  In the very beginning of the shows, I always support the woman (or one of the women) in the competition.  As we learn more about the contestants, my opinion may change, but at the beginning, I always pull for the woman.  And it doesn’t matter the race – I pretty much don’t care what ethnicity the person is.

I don’t know where this comes from.  I have rarely been the object of sexism, even in medical school, residency, and ten years of medical practice.  I guess it’s probably because I feel something in common with other women.  On Next Food Network Star, I started out rooting for Melissa partly because she’s also a stay-at-home mom but I stayed with her because I enjoyed watching her and she’s super-smart about cooking.

So I’m sexist.

Friday, August 07, 2009


Do you remember Huldah from your Sunday School classes? No? Don’t worry. Neither do I. I came across her name while reading in 2 Chronicles.

In the 18th year of Josiah’s reign as king of Judah, the book of the Law was found again in the Temple and read to Josiah. King Josiah then gave orders for his helpers to “inquire of the Lord for me and for the remnant in Israel and Judah about what is written in this book that has been found.” (2 Chron. 34:21) So, the guys go out and find the prophetess, Huldah, who proceeds to give them five verses of God promising to all kinds of destruction on the people for forsaking Him, but sparing Josiah because Josiah is turning the people back to God.

And that’s all we hear of her. Apparently, she was known to the people of Judah as a prophetess. There didn’t seem to be some great debate as to who to go see when Josiah said to go “inquire of the Lord”. She didn’t appear to be a “second-choice” or the one prophesying because a man didn’t do his job.

Huldah appears to be a woman that God had placed in Jerusalem for a specific purpose – and she was ready to carry out that purpose. The story of Huldah is a reminder that we need to look at the entire Bible to sort out the whole issue of women’s “roles” and not pick and choose a few verses. Huldah is an example of a woman used by God in a male-dominated profession (prophesying – if you can call that a profession) in a male-dominated culture.

Just some food for thought.

7 Quick Takes Friday – August 7, 2009


1. My headaches come in waves.  Right now, things are going pretty well and I’ve been pretty productive and without a rip-roaring headache for several days.  About three weeks ago, though, I had about two weeks of being able to do very little around the house because of the headaches.  Because of this, I‘ve been making lots of meals for the freezer so that we have something to eat besides frozen pizza when I get into a really bad headache stretch.

2. We are trying a new schedule around here.  Since we are all here at lunchtime, but not necessarily suppertime, our big meal of the day is now lunch.  We’ve done it for two days now with real success and I think it will be even better during the school year.  I have to get used to getting up and starting dinner almost immediately, but I like having a clean kitchen most of the afternoon.  And having a big meal in the middle of the day is definitely healthier all the way around!

3. A local chiropractor has offered to give me a free evaluation and treatment of my headaches.  I’ve had chiropractic treatment before without much success so I haven’t pursued it again.  However, this chiropractor is a Christian and offered to give it another, more comprehensive try.  Unfortunately, since I’m on Medicare (because of disability), he’s not allowed to provide free care for me.  My plan doesn’t cover much chiropractic care, so I’m not sure that we’re in a place to try it right now.  That’s one of the most frustrating things to me about government-run healthcare – physicians are limited in doing even good things.  If someone can’t pay their Medicare or Medicaid co-pay, the provider can’t just waive the fee.  Yet one more reason to keep the government out of our lives.

4. I read somewhere recently that people spend only 22 minutes a day cooking, but 30-60 minutes per day watching cooking shows.  We spend a lot more time around here cooking because cooking from scratch is far less expensive than convenience foods.  But, Rosie Girl and I are also often inspired by cooking shows (especially Food Network) to try new things.  Sometimes we look up recipes, but other times we just go in the kitchen and play around and hope it turns out good.

5. We planted Morning Glories in the first part of June and they just started blooming the first of August.  I don’t know if they took so long because it’s been a cool summer or because we needed to water them more, but I’m glad they finally decided to take off!!


6. For lunch today, I used green beans and an onion from our garden.  The garden has definitely required some work and has been a mixed bag of success, but I’m glad we did it.  The green beans have been a huge success.  The onions are also doing well.  I think the squash and pumpkin will do well.  We have carrots, but they are pretty small!


7. Rosie Girl had golden curls when she was a baby, but her hair became straight by the time she was five years old.  In the last year or so, we’ve noticed that she has had some curls around her face.  She asked to go to the hair stylist last week to have her hair trimmed and figure out what to do about the curls.  It turns out that she has curly hair!!  The stylist layered her hair and, once the weight was taken off, all her hair curls.  All Rosie Girl does in the morning is wash and towel dry it. 


Check out Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes Friday posts!!



Wednesday, August 05, 2009

New School Year Tips


This week’s WFMW theme is Back to School, so I thought I’d share some of my homeschool Back to School tips.  My kids have never gone to a traditional school (except for Rosie Girl’s taking an art class in 6th grade).  Mr. Math Tutor was the homeschooling parent for the first five years and I have been doing it now for three years.  You’d think we’d be real experts by now, huh?  We would be except that the kids keep insisting on growing up!  We find one thing that works and then the kids grow out of it or past it.  This year, Rosie Girl is taking Chorus and Art at the high school and Wild Man is taking Band at the Middle School, so we are following the school calendar this year.   But, here are some things that have worked for us in the past:

1. Start the year with one new item for each kid.  One year, we found very inexpensive backpacks, which the kids really needed.  We still have those backpacks and use them regularly.  Another year was pencil boxes.

2. Have a special breakfast for the first day of school.  My kids particularly like pancakes!

3. Start slow – ease into school by starting a couple of subjects each week.

4. End of summer field trip – my kids are requesting a trip to the planetarium and laser show before we start this year.

Well, that’s about it for Back to School tips.  Check out WFMW at We Are That Family for more great ideas.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Potatoes Gratin

Blissfully Domestic 1


Our family LOVES to watch The Next Food Network Star and we were thrilled when Melissa won last week!!!  For the last challenge, Melissa and Jeffrey each had to do a short pilot episode.  Melissa did a chicken dish with a potato gratin.  Last night for dinner, I was making roast, but I had a couple of potatoes, so Rosie Girl and I decided to do a modification of Melissa’s potato gratin.

We sliced 2 large potatoes and grated about a cup of mild cheddar cheese.  We then layered the potatoes and cheese into the cups of a muffin tin which had already been sprayed with baking spray.  We topped each cup with a pat of butter and added a little milk.  It went in the oven for about 30 minutes.  (Melissa’s original recipe called for Swiss cheese instead of cheddar, and cream instead of milk and butter, but I loved the idea of using the muffin tin.)

The potatoes were delicious and perfectly cooked.  The only problem was that the muffin tin could have been sprayed a little more completely so it was an annoyance to wash.  This is definitely a “keeper” of a recipe – quick and easy to make and well-liked by the family.

Check out Blissfully Domestic and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday for more great domestic ideas!!


Math Tools


Mr. Math Tutor’s business is up and going!!  His business is called Math Tools and he provides math tutoring services both in person and online.  I’m pretty excited about it because he’s doing what he’s passionate about.  Mr. Math Tutor enjoys working one-on-one with students to help them become successful in math.  I was going to have him write an article for my blog, but he’s going to be writing for both CurrClick and Heart of the Matter, so I’ll link to the articles when they’re up.  In the meantime, check out his website!