Monday, August 3, 2015

What We Read - August

(Affiliate links are used in this post)

Last month we listened to:

  • Everything on a Waffle - We liked this silly story about a girl who looses her parents. She doesn’t believe that they really died.
  • Nate the Great - Sammy enjoyed listening to these. I found them kinda redundant but I think they would be great books to exercise your reading muscles
  • The Slippery Slope - Book 10 in the Series of Unfortunate Events. We have really enjoyed the series and are really looking forward to the finality!
  • The Grim Grotto- Book 11 in the Series of Unfortunate Events. This might be one of my favorite books because a little bit of good lasts through the whole book!
  • The Penultimate Peril - Book 12 in the Series of Unfortunate Events. I am certainly confused with how this series is going to end in the next book.. but I am certainly looking forward to The End (the name of the last book)!
  • A Season of Gifts - I love Richard Peck! He is laugh out loud funny and certainly keeps you on your toes about what could possibly happen next!

What Sammy Read:

  • Geronimo Stilton: Save the White Whale!- Sammy really enjoyed the different colors and fonts used throughout the book. It also made the book seem shorter to him!
  • Cute - Sammy liked the very last part of this book and the adorable illustrations!
  • Rosie Revere, Engineer - Sammy really liked this book because it was about being a scientist and inventing things (something he is totally into right now).
  • Friday My Radio Flyer Flew - This story has enjoyable pictures and Sammy really liked that the kid flew!! 

What I read:
Here is where I admit I was reading from 4 different books and didn’t finish a single one!! Hopefully I will be able to share what I finished next month!!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

3rd Grade Curriculum Choices

I am getting all geared up for the new school year. Last year I didn’t share our curriculum plan because I waited until we had started school and at that point life was too busy! This year I am getting a jump start on the planning and sharing!!

*This post contains affiliate links*

Bible: Cat and Dog Theology and Positive Action Growing with God
Math: Saxon Math 3 Intermediate, Life of Fred Cats and Dogs, for speed of facts
Science: Nancy Larson Science 2 and Snap Circuit project or two each week
Reading: All About Reading Level 4, several assigned chapter books (I will share this later), tons of read aloud, and audiobooks.
Spelling: Spelling You See Level B and then C when we finish up B
Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting T - We are back to using this program because it has better repetition than Handwriting Without Tears. Level T is the transition level into cursive.
Grammar: Daily Grams Grade 3 and Growing with Grammar Level 3
Writing: WriteShop C
Vocabulary: Wordly Wise 3000
The Story of the World Volume 2, we will be using the activity book and the tests this year. We will be doing lots of hands on activities and projects.
Critical Thinking: The second half of the Building Thinking Skills Level 1 book, the first half of the Reading Detective book but we are going to adapt it to work on listening comprehension, Mind Benders book 3,
Geography: Trail Guide to U.S. Geography
Art: Home Art Studio 2nd Grade- we got behind in this last year. So we are going to finish this up before moving on!
Co-op: PE, Art, Musical, and other fun classes with friends!
"Not" Back to School Blog Hop 2015

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Homeschooling an Only Child - The Bad

Homeschooling An Only Child

If you are new to this series, you can see the first post here and the second post here. I, again, just want to say this is intended to both be an encouraging series for homeschoolers of an only child as well as give other families insight into what it’s like in our shoes. 

Homeschooling an only child has some challenges that many people would not realize! Some can easily be overcome, while others are things one must accept and move on.

When you have only one child you don’t get to divide curriculum cost across multiple children, thereby making it more cost effective. You have to decide if a resource is worth your investment for one child or if you need to find another more affordable solution.

Group subjects and individualized subjects have the same number of students. It is hard to create an environment where your student learns to work with others. You can’t have everyone working on a project together doing different parts based on ability. This can be partially remedied by being involved in a co-op or support group where your child can work with other students.

This might only be Sammy, but I would venture to guess that it happens with most only children. Sammy is always comparing himself to Tim or I. If we are doing an art lesson he wants me to join in. Then he compares his project to mine. He will then say he is not good at art. He will also do this with board/card games. So then I have to balance out whether I should let him win or lose. I am not saying I let him win every time (that is a disservice to the child) but if it is a game of skill I will win every time. It is not any fun to lose every game!

Activities in curriculum where you do a survey of your family, or ask your siblings questions don’t work out. An easy solution to that is to call friends, post questions on Facebook, or ask other family members.

Subjects that require discussion (history, read-alouds, government, etc.) are a little less exciting. It feels like a lecture instead of a discussion. This will improve as the child gets older and contributes more to the discussion.

There is no one else to play with. This makes “socialization” all the more important. It is important for your only child to have time with peers, but it is also important for mom to have time with other adults as well!!

I would love to hear anyone else's thoughts on “the bad” of homeschooling an only. Did I miss anything? Is there anything else I should cover in this series?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What We Read - July

I love seeing what everyone is reading and listening to each month so I decided to jump in on the fun!!

Last month we listend to:
  • Pollyanna (Read by Melanie Young) - I had never read this story and I loved it. Even better Sammy was really into it!  Pollyanna has such a positive outlook on life it is refreshing and a great way to focus on the positives.  
  • Pollyanna Grows Up (Read by Melanie Young) - I enjoyed this story more than Sammy did.  I think it was a little over his head and he didn’t care of people found their true loves!  However, I was completely engaged in the story!
  • The Carnivorus Carnival (affiliate link) - We have been listening to The Series of Unfortnate Events for a while now and still realy enjoying it.  The plot in these stories never ceases to amaze me and keep me on my toes! 
  • The Hostile Hospital (affiliate link) - I thought I would be sick of the series after the first couple of books but we are still going strong!  Sammy can’t wait to find out what happens to Sunny, Klaus ,and Violet!
The favorites of what I read to Sammy:
  • Zen Shorts (affliate link) - cute story about 3 siblings that become friend with a panda. The panda tells them stories to help them deal with conflicts in their lives.
  • Brief Thief (affilate link) - A very silly story Sammy picked out at the library. It talks about doing the right thing and thinking of others.
  • Weasels (affilate link) - A story about weasels and world domination. This was a favorite of both Sammy and I last month; we read it over and over again. The pictures are really engaging and you will find something new each time you look at them!
  • Mr. Bassat Plays (affilate link)- A story about a grown up dog that needs to learn how to have fun again. I think the plot of this was more for the adults reading then the children. *winks*
What Sammy read:
  • The 13-Story Treehouse (affilate link)- Sammy earned this book through the Barnes and Noble summer reading program. He liked it and hopes to get the next one in the series.
  • The Worst Name in Third Grade (affilate link) - Not the greatest book, but he read the whole thing. We are working hard on reading more chapter books so he doesn’t find them so daunting. I got some better suggestions from the librarian this last visit. So be on the look out for those next month!

What I read:
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (affliate link) - I read through this book in 2 days and I now am embarking on purging stuff out of my house!! I didn't agree with everything in this book but am choosing parts of it that I do want to implement!  I will never get rid of all of my pictures or feel bad for rolled socks or thank my stuff for a job well done before giving it away!  However, I will make sure everything has a place and a place that is easy for it to be put away too!
  • The White Princess (affilate link) - I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first two in the series. However, I was invested enough in the characters to power through the book!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Second Grade Curriculum Review

I never got around to sharing our curriculum choices for 2nd grade! Bad Blogger!!  But before I share our plans for 3rd grade plans I wanted to share what worked or didn’t work for us this past year!


2014-09-18 10.18.24-1Our plan was to work our way through The Picture Smart Bible. I enjoyed the curriculum and so did Sammy.  However, I didn’t feel like much of the information was sticking with him.  The overview of each book seemed to vague for him to retain.  I don’t think this was a curriculum issue as much as it was a learning style issue. 


2014-10-30 08.42.28We gave Handwriting Without Tears a shot this year.  This curriculum works really well for a leftie.  I loved that they words they were suppose to be writing were above  where they were writing so his hand wasn’t covering them up.  However, I didn’t feel like there was enough repetition for a second grader.  We were able to complete both the first grade and second grade books in one year. 


2014-11-05 09.11.50At the beginning of the year we gave Rightstart Math a shot.  It was not a good fit for us. I love the games it has and we used them throughout the year but Sammy needed a lot more repetition in order to master his addition facts.  We switched to Horizons Math and used that for the rest of the time.  This was a better fit and Sammy’s addition facts were finally memorized!! Now to move on to subtraction and multiplication! 


2015-03-24 14.24.48We used Nancy Larson Science 1 and LOVED it this year!  This was just the right speed for Sammy and he learned so much! I love the format and everything about this program!!


DSC_0005Our selection for this year was Story of the World Volume 1.  This was a hit and just the right speed for Sammy!  He learned a ton about history and really enjoyed the hands on activities we added in from the activity book


2015-01-03 18.30.25We chose to continue on with All About Reading level 3 for this year.  This was a great fit and we finished out level 3.  This program has given Sammy such a great foundation!  I have seen his reading REALLY explode this year and it has been awesome!!

Language Arts

We worked through the Learning Language Arts through Literature the Red Book.  I liked the program okay but we skipped a lot of things since we already had a reading and spelling program.  So there was a lot of busy work or skipped sections since it was repetitive.  We wont be using this in the future but I didn’t hate the program. 


2015-01-27 10.53.36We gave All About Spelling level 2 a shot.  I love the program and we will continue to use it but at a MUCH slower pace for Sammy.  We added in Spelling You See (review here) and I think this will be a better fit for him right now.  I think we will try and work on a spelling lesson a month from All About Spelling and do Spelling You See daily. 


2015-03-16 09.39.57We used WriteShop A this year. I loved the program but I think I picked the wrong level for Sammy.  It as too easy for him.  He did learn how to better organize his thoughts and write several different projects that he was proud of! 


2014-11-05 08.33.44We used several extra things this past year.  We used several workbooks from The Critical Thinking Company that we loved and will be doing again next year.  We used Building Thinking Skills level 1 and did half of the book and will finish the other half next year.  We finished the second half of the Mind Benders book 2 this year.  This is one of Sammy’s favorite school activities! We also did Dr. DooRiddles A2 book and these were challenging but fun for him to figure out.. there were a few I had to look the answer up to *winks*.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Homeschooling An Only Child–The Good

Homeschooling An Only Child

If you are new to this series, you can see the first post here.  I, again, just want to say this is intended to both be an encouraging series for homeschoolers of an only child as well as give other families insight into what it’s like in our shoes! 

There are some amazing benefits of homeschooling an only child!  I wanted to start this series off on a positive (and a light) note!

Here are a few of the fun things about homeschooling an only:

  • When your child finishes up their work for the day.. everyone is done!
  • All of your children have the same learning style
  • You can’t compare them unintentionally with a sibling
  • You only have to buy one set of workbooks
  • Field trips cost a whole lot less
  • They can be involved in more events because you aren’t splitting your time driving everyone someplace
  • You can sit and work through each problem with the child
  • You don’t miss a weakness because you were helping someone else
  • They don’t have to wait their turn to get help with something
  • The student doesn’t have anyone distracting them from their work
  • They have their choice of places to do school work
  • When your only child sleeps in, the whole house is quite
  • You can sell your curriculum as soon as you are done with it


There are some more important benefits to homeschooling as well.  One of the things I am really thankful for is the ability to focus on character issues as they arise.  Not that you can’t do that if you have more than one child; however, it can become challenging to focus on a character issue for each child.  Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease and other things get overlooked. 

If your child wants to learn about a certain topic it is very easy to add that in or replace something to add it in.  I firmly believe if they are interested in something they can dig deep in that subject and become an expert in no time.

An only child’s ability to entertain themselves is pretty astounding.  That is not to say they use it all the time!  However, Sammy can often find something to entertain himself with and be gone for long stretches of time!

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You don’t have to schedule one on one time with you child.  That doesn’t mean you get out of doing the special one on one dates, but you don’t have to figure out how to fit them all into the schedule!  This really helps build the deep bonds between the child and the parents!  I realize that as we hit the teen years the bond won’t seem as tight, but, hopefully, pouring into our only child now will help keep the relationship strong through the teen years.

Next week I will be writing about the challenges of homeschooling an only and how to overcome them.  If there is anything you would like for me to cover in the topic, let me know; I would be glad to do so.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sammy’s 8th Birthday

Way back in April Sammy turned 8!  We had a fun weekend celebrating him and doing lots of partying!  We started the birthday weekend off with a friend party at Pump It Up (a bounce house place).  Here everyone is yelling Happy Birthday to Sammy:


Sammy going down the huge slide:



The theme of the party was Star Wars so he was sure to wear his Star Wars shirt!  He gave the slide two thumbs up (there was a lot of pictures like that, that weekend):


Blowing out the candle:


Pizza and Vader-ade followed by cupcakes.. even better when you are sitting next to your cousin:


Present time in the huge thrown:



The next morning was Sammy’s actual birthday… so he got to open presents from us before heading off to his cousin’s birthday party (she was born almost exactly two years later):


We gave Sammy a Kiwi Crate subscription for the year.. he was super pumped about that gift:


The next day we had family over to celebrate with Sammy.  Of course we had to have more birthday cupcakes:


I had to use a lot of food coloring to make them look like light sabers.  hehe this might be my favorite picture from Sammy’s birthday:



Opening presents:


He has had so much fun with these:


Star Wars figures are always a hit:


Sammy at eight:

  • funny
  • energetic
  • loves to read
  • LOVES Legos
  • talkative
  • caring
  • a big helper
  • loves to play with kids and be around people
  • still loves animals and is very compassionate with them
  • 4’1” tall and 58 lbs.
  • bright

Friday, June 12, 2015

Photo Dump - May


Water balloon rainbow.. summer fun at it’s best:

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Sammy learned a new trick:

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Sammy and I took up a new hobby!  Geocaching!  We have had a lot of fun:

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Sammy selfies:

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We took Peach for a little car ride to visit Grandma and she thought she should drive after Tim ran into the grocery store:

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Back in April we found out that Yoshi had torn his cruciate ligament (hind knee) and they thought he would need surgery.  After a lot of rest we were told he was doing so well we wouldn’t need to do surgery!

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Movie and a snack and a couple of dogs (notice that Tipsy never wants to be in on these cuddle sessions):

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Mommy Sammy date night:

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We are done with second grade.. We celebrated with a little summer fun:

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Nicia came over for some more game night fun!  Dominion (affiliate link) for the win.. but we also played some Forbidden Island (affiliate link)!

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This stinker was having some chest pain and a racing heart.. for those that don’t follow me on Instagram we just meet with the cardiologist and he is totally fine!

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Tubing fun with Uncle Chris.. this is also the last ride on that tube.. it popped in the middle of their ride:

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We meet some friends at a local river for some fun:

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We went to a local university for a children’s theater production.. Sammy loved it and can’t wait to see the next one later this month!

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Sammy has been improving dramatically over the course of the season.  He really wanted to earn the game ball and was finally able to do that.  He had his best game of his life with a double, two singles, and 5  R.B.I.s

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Homeschooling an Only Child

Homeschooling An Only Child

We didn’t set out to have an only child.  When Tim and I were dating, we talked about children and were both in agreement that we wanted to have 3 or 4 children.  That was our plan; however, God had something different in store for us.  This doesn’t mean we will always have an only child, but currently that seems to be how things are unfolding.  So I am embracing (sometimes not very happily) this plan and making the best of it.

Homeschooling an only child is certainly unusual in the homeschooling community.  I wanted to share some of our experience with it:  the good, the bad, and the different.  This series is not intended to step on anyone's toes or provide insight into how every homeschool mom of an “only” feels.  It is, however, a little glimpse into our days and what makes us, us. 

This will definitely be a vulnerable series of posts for me.  I hope it encourages other homeschool moms of “onlys” that they are not alone.  I also hope it allows other homeschool moms to see a little of what it is like in our shoes so that they can be better equipped to encourage the homeschool families of “onlys” and be a support system for them.

If there is anything you would like me to cover in this series, I would love to hear from you and will do my best to include it!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Photo Dump–April


Easter bowl full of fun stuff:

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Fishing at the lake on Easter.. I don’t think it gets any better than that: 2015-04-05 15.36.20

A family picture at the lake on a beautiful Easter Sunday:

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Sammy is playing baseball again this year and his team is the storm.. I love their hats:

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Puppy snuggles:

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At Sammy’s first game he got to be catcher.. He had never don’t this before so his form wasn’t the greatest.  But as the season has gone on he has improved drastically:

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For my birthday Tim and I got away for a little while and went to dinner and a small concert at a local college:

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I am going to miss the days:

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2015-04-14 09.38.01 HDR

Post crown:

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Beautiful beautiful MP3 audio books and a Where’s Waldo book make for a quite morning:

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Homeschool PE and the spring:

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Improved form:

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My army of storm trooper goodie bags for Sammy’s birthday party:

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I was quitely working at the kitchen table while Sammy was at co-op and I looked around for all of the dogs and couldn’t fine Peach.. Until I looked on the couch!! I couldn’t believe she got up there while I was home:

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Post Sammy’s birthday party we hit up Texas Roadhouse.. I think the cupcake and soda hit him:

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Fun puzzle from Sammy’s grandparents (it is 2 sided):

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Tim and I went away in May for our anniversary.  When we told Sammy about the trip he was a little sad that he wasn’t going to see us for a week so we told him we could facetime while we were gone.  So he wanted to practice and these were the CRAZY faces he was making at me:

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For Sammy’s birthday we got him a Kiwi Crate subscription and he got his first one in the mail and loved every second of making the projects:

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Orthodontist appointment… Sammy gave it a thumbs up and thumbs down!  Sammy looks so big in this picture!  We are waiting for some more adult teeth to surface and see how many baby teeth we have to pull to help create some space in his overcrowded mouth:

2015-04-30 11.24.24

Rainy day fun (top left and around clockwise) a fun game from my sister, more Kiwi Crate fun, dominoes, adult coloring book, and dominoes and marble run:

2015-04-30 17.34.37