All in the name of fashion

I didn’t want to say anything. But deep down inside, I knew this day would come eventually.

You see. I’ve tried to ignore it. I’ve turned the other way when the straight-leg jean started making its appearance in stores. I averted my eyes from the dreaded skinny jean. I ignored the leggings, knowing there was no hope that I would ever be able to wear them anyway.

But I’m a slave to fashion. And I can’t ignore its evil, cyclical ways forever. I saw it coming a few years ago when they brought back the goucho. We were headed down a very bad path that could only lead us straight back to the one fashion decade I sword I would never revisit: the 80s.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold my ground forever. And in this case, it was really about the boots.

You know how I love the boots. The high-heeled boots. The fur-lined boots. The cowboy boots. Even the shoots.

And my closet full of boots was starting to seem kind of pointless when they were always hidden underneath my boot-cut jeans. Tucking the wide stretches of fabric into the boot was pointless. It couldn’t be done.

Unless, of course, I had…

You know…

Dare I say it…

Some… a-hem… stirrup pants.

It’s true. And with a long sweater and some tall boots, I wouldn’t look THAT fat, would I? I mean you can only really see the pants for about 12 inches between the top of the boots and the bottom of the sweater.

And yes. I know I do look a little like an English woman getting ready to mount her horse. I just need one of those equestrian sticks. What on earth do they call those things?

I have a very firm belief that I hold tight in the depths of my being: Most women look their best in a wide-leg trouser. No one looks good in a tapered leg. Not even a supermodel. And the only thing worse than a tapered leg is stirrup pants.

But it had to be done. Fashion was calling, and I had to answer. They are mine. The pant with the removable stirrup. Just feeling that stretch of elastic under my foot makes me want to break out into a Boy George song. “Do you really want to hurt me? Do you really want to make me cr-y-y-y?”

Now, all I can do is hope and pray that no one in the fashion industry gets the bright idea to bring back the knickers.

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Our day, part 3

Our home school day is structured much differently from how I set it up last year. When the kids were in school, they always started the day with math so that is how we started our day at home, too. We ended our day with the subjects we did together — science, geography and history.

Then, last spring, I read some blog posts by a friend who was doing everything in reverse order. She would start her day with the subjects they did together and end her day with math. We decided to give it a try this year, and we are loving it!

We are able to get our day off to a good start with all of the subjects we do together (see my previous blog posts). Then we break off to do language arts, and I work with each child one on one. I do writing and grammar with one child while the others work independently, then we switch.

We end our day with math. This is going much better for us because, even though they need more energy for math, in the past, it was sucking up so much energy that they weren’t able to put as much effort into subjects like writing and grammar.

So… after we get done with all of our reading and science questions, we jump into language arts. Our curriculum is set up with the hardest writing assignments of the week on Thursdays. However, I have found it works best for us to jump into writing on Mondays. Sometimes I also add in extra assignments in addition to what is recommended in our curriculum.

This Monday, for example, my 4th grader was working on writing a narrative using dialogue. My 2nd grader is learning to construct a simple outline that he can use to write about any topic. Today, he chose to write about why he loves his mom. Awwww… one of the benefits of home school.
My kindergarten daughter also has a writing assignment. Often, it is as simple as doing copywork or dictating a story to me.
I assign the kids pages in their phonics books and handwriting books or give them assignments with spelling words to keep them busy while I am working with someone else. On Mondays, the two younger kids usually put their spelling words in alphabetical order, for example.

I just started a new spelling curriculum with my 4th grader, called Spelling Power. It includes simple exercises to help him practice any words he missed. He is not a big fan of this curriculum, but I have noticed he is learning his spelling words more quickly, so I think it’s working.

We also do phonics work during this time, vocabulary and grammar. I know that a lot of my friends who home school aren’t big fans of the grammar curriculum we use, Shurely Grammar. However, my kids have always used it, even when they were in private school, so we are to the point that it seems natural to us.

I’m amazed at how much they know about grammar.

We have about 14 jingles that we sing covering every part of speech. After we sing our jingles, the kids usually diagram sentences. My kindergartner can label subject nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives.

My 4th grader can diagram more complicated parts of a sentence such as direct objects, prepositional phrases, helping verbs and possessive pronouns. Grammar also includes daily exercises to practice other concepts, such as similes and metaphors, pronouns, contractions and homonyms, for example.

Language Arts also includes literature. The boys often read their literature books the night before so they have less school work the next day. However, I have a set of questions I review with them to be sure they understood what they read.

We do most of our home school work in our dining room; however, the kids usually migrate to other rooms at some point. Often, one is working in the family room while someone else is in the kitchen to make it easier for everyone to concentrate.
Up next, math, typing and Spanish…

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Our Day, not an ordinary day

Even though I’m in the middle of describing our days of doing school at home, not all of our days fit the cookie cutter model. I have realized that one of the reasons home school is difficult for me is that I am such a Type A personality.
I print out our assignment sheets every Monday, and I love to focus on that list and check off each subject with all of the fun and creativity of a drill sergeant. I don’t like to slow down, get distracted or take days off. I like to keep moving full-speed ahead.
And as you might imagine, that is boring. And it’s not very fun. And it’s part of the reason that I am not in love with doing school at home.
So when we started the year this fall, I made a pact with my kids that we were going to enjoy our time together. I was going to try to laugh more. I was going to try to slow down when subjects were hard and find fun ways to make them understandable.

Because in the end, what will my kids remember more? That we did a sheet of math facts and a handwriting sheet, as usual on a gorgeous day in October, or that we blew off a few subjects and sat under a big tree surrounded by falling leaves and read about knights and castles? Will it really matter in the end that we skipped phonics for the day and that they got to climb a tree and sit high in the branches while I read Robin Hood?

Even though I think it’s important to take our school day seriously and finish each subject, I’m also trying to be better about taking advantage of the time we have together by celebrating the beauty that is all around us. And that is why today we did our math in the car on our way to our outdoor classroom — the arboretum.
I’m pretty sure that we will remember this day for a long time.

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Our day, part 2

Our next subject is history. This is probably the favorite of everyone in the family.
We are starting with the middle ages this year, which means we get a daily dose of knights, castles and vikings, and spend lots of time thinking about Iceland, Greenland, Norway and England.

We read from three different history books, but before you get too impressed, let me admit that our history curriculum this year is much easier than last year’s. Although we did love Story of the World last year, we are all happier with our lighter approach to history this year. I think we are learning just as much, but the reading is broken down into bite-sized pieces that make it seem much easier to swallow. Also, two of our books are loaded with pictures, which the kids absolutely love.

Just to add some fun to our reading, I try to read the stories in the accent of the people group we are studying. Let me tell you, it’s not always easy to switch from the Eskimos of Newfoundland to the Vikings of Greenland and then over to castle life in England. However, I do my best. Sometimes the kids beg me to do the accents, and other days they beg me to stop.

We also have a read-aloud book that usually corresponds to whatever we are studying in history. Right now, we are reading Robin Hood, which has been a blast. I honestly don’t know if I have ever read Robin Hood up until now. (Don’t tell my boys, but I’m secretly with them when they beg me each day to keep reading! I wish that’s all we had to accomplish in a day!)

We will read more than a dozen read alouds this school year. The kids are holding the ones we have finished so far.

Each day, we also alternate between reading a story from Aesop’s Fables and a poetry book called, Cornstalks, a Bushel of Poems. My oldest son absolutely loves Aesop’s Fables. He loves any stories involving animals, and he can’t get enough of this book. He equally dislikes the poetry book and begs me to skip it, which, of course, only makes me want to read it in a funny accent.

After that, it’s time for science. We are studying Biology this year. So far, we have learned about cells, animal kingdoms and the unique characteristics of lots of different animals. Later in the year, we will build a miniature greenhouse and grow beans and radishes.

Up next, language arts…

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Our day, part 1

I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. I’m going to write a few posts that detail what our daily life is like here in the home that we also call a school.
This will probably include more details than most people will care to read. But then again, there might be a few people out there who would love to know what our day is really like.
I will admit, it’s not always pretty. And that is exactly why you aren’t going to see any photos of me! We try to start our school day by 8 a.m. Often, we actually begin closer to 7:30. I have found that if I take the time to take a shower and get ready to go out in public, it delays our day too much. So, I’m usually either wearing my sweats from an early morning walk, my PJs or some other mismatched outfit I found lying on the floor until I have a chance to take a shower later in the morning. Just keeping it real.
As soon as at least two out of three of the students have swallowed the last bite of breakfast, we begin the morning with our Geography Songs. We have a CD with a song for every region of the world. We add one new song a week, so right now we sing about nine songs every morning.
This is a great way to help us all wake up as we finish our breakfast. (We always do geography at the breakfast table, but I forgot to take the photo until later.) I also clean up the kitchen while we are singing the songs.
The kids each have a workbook with a map of each continent or region covered in the song. They practice pointing to the various countries as the song plays.
We also do the geography songs first because Baby Jayda loves them. She smiles, claps and bobs her head to the music. We want to include her in our singing before she is ready for her morning nap.

Next is our Bible reading time. We read from The Child’s Story Bible, which we really enjoy. The older boys are ready to move on to reading directly from the Bible, but I decided I wanted to finish the Bible storybook that we have first. It does a great job of giving background information and putting each Bible story into context.
After that, we read a book called Window on the World. This is a book we all look forward to reading. Each day, we read about a different country in the world. The book tells about the country’s history, religion, culture and challenges faced by the people in that area. It also gives specific suggestions for how to pray for the people living in that region.
I love this book because it has given my children such a great worldview. We look up each area either on our globe or our world map, and it corresponds to the new geography song we are learning that week.
Up next, history and science…

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