Bullet points

October 30, 2009 Categories: Blogging , Curriculum , Holidays , Homeschooling , Writing | 2 Comments  

~ There is so much going on – I haven’t had much time to post here at Mommy Brain. I feel bad, but Books and Movies has to be more of a priority, because I’m getting free books to review in the mail every week.

~ No improvement on the financial front – enough said. Oh, and my van – which is our most reliable vehicle and the only one with a fully functioning heater – is in the shop today. Praying very hard that it is something easy and cheap to fix.

~ I switched Natalie to The History of US by Joy Hakim for her US history. She’s liking it much better. I’m dealing with the lack of review exercises/exams by having her write a summary paragraph after reading each chapter. So far, so good.

~ Kevin and the kids carved pumpkins last week, but two of them have already had to be thrown away. We had a very early freeze in our neck of the woods, and the result was mushy pumpkins.

~ Our butterflies have completed their life cycle, and the butterfly habitat will be put away until spring. This has been one of Jonathan’s most favorite birthday presents ever!

~ The kids are extremely excited to attend the Harvest Party at Grandmamma and Papa’s church tomorrow night. They always bring home bags and bags of candy.

~ And now, in the “here’s my excuse for not blogging hardly at all next month” category: I’m doing NaNoWriMo. For those of you unfamiliar with the acronym, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to write a 50,000 word novel. In a month. That amounts to 1667 words a day. So, needless to say, blogging will be at a minimum until November is over. I’m excited but terrified, too. But at least I’ll be able to say I tried, right? Michelle did it last year, and it didn’t kill her. :) Natalie is doing it, too – but her goal is 7,000 words. Michelle and her kids are doing it, too, so at least we’ll have company.

I guess that catches everyone up. Anyone else out there doing NaNoWriMo? Please let me know – and tell me your user name – so I can add you to my writing buddies list.

Have a great Halloween!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

October 28, 2009 Categories: Holidays , This and That | 4 Comments  

I had a strange dream last night – probably a result of watching the last two episodes of Life on Mars. In my dream, I went back in time to visit my younger self – around 15 or 16 years of age. I was allowed to give myself one piece of advice. You know what I came up with?

“Don’t wear orange.”

Profound, huh? I told Natalie, and her response was, “Well, Mom, you don’t look very good in orange.”

Flashlight Worth Books

Categories: Books | Comments Off  

I have a list called 9 Children’s Novels Both Boys and Girls Will Love to Hear up at Flashlight Worthy Books, in case you’re interested.

(I promise a longer, more substantive post soon. Things are a bit crazy, and I’m getting ready for NaNoWriMo.)

24-Hour Read-a-thon

October 24, 2009 Categories: Blogging , Books | 2 Comments  

I’m participating in Dewey’s 24 Read-a-thon this weekend. You can read my updates here at Books and Movies.

Homeschooling update

October 15, 2009 Categories: Books , Homeschooling | Comments Off  

We’re almost two months into our new homeschooling year, so I thought it would be a good time for an update on what we’ve been doing.

Math
The three boys are now doing Horizons Math and the switch from Saxon seems to have been a very good thing. They are all enjoying math much more than they did last year. Noah is in 5th and doing Horizons 5. Jonathan is in 4th and doing Horizons 3, as it is more advanced and he needed some of the concepts cemented in his mind before he moved on. Josiah is in 2nd grade and doing Horizons 2 and it seems like it may be a bit behind where he actually is, but I know that book 3 would be too advanced, so we’re skipping a bit here and there.

Natalie is doing Saxon Math 8/7 with Pre-Algebra, and pretty much hates it, but that would be the case no matter what book we used. She is not a math fan, but gets Bs and Cs on her tests, so it’s all fine for now.

Grammar
All four kids are still doing Shurley English. It may drill a lot, and it’s not an exciting curricula, but they are learning the basics of grammar and sentence construction and how to write essays, so I like that. The writing assignments get a bit repetitive, so I’m looking for some more creative writing projects to do on alternating weeks. Natalie has agreed to do NaNoWriMo with me, so we’ll be skipping the writing assignments in Shurley English and doing some outlining and character work.

All of the kids are still doing the Spelling Workout series and a Core Knowledge Reading Comprehension workbook.

Reading
Natalie is still reading a lot, but I don’t assign her a certain amount of silent reading time – especially since her history and science require a lot more reading than before. On top of her own choice of book, she is reading an anthology called Realms of Gold, which I got from Core Knowledge. It includes poems, short stories, essays, speeches, and excerpts from books. She’s reading Poe, Frost, Thurber – and we’re discussing what she’s reading. From her own reading, recently she’s enjoyed Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham, Little Women by Alcott, and Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell.

Noah does at least 45 minutes of silent reading a day, on top of any reading for other subjects. Recent favorites have been Zamora’s Ultimate Challenge by M.K. Scott, Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted, and Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel.

Jonathan also reads for 45 minutes during silent reading time. It is very hard to find a book that will hold his attention and keep him from checking the clock every few minutes. The only book to do that recently has been Goblins: An UnderEarth Adventure by Royce Buckingham.

Josiah reads for 30 minutes, and he recently completed the Littles series by John Peterson, and is now making his way through the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney.

History
The boys and I just finished our study of the Civil War. We read the chapters in Story of the World, then read If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War, The Boys’ War, and Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln. We also watched a series of movies on slavery, the war, and reconstruction. We will top this off by watching the film Glory next week.

Natalie is also studying the Civil War, using All American History, and this was a poor choice of curricula. As soon as she completes the unit on the Civil War, we’ll be making a change.

Science
The boys and I won’t be doing science until second semester. Natalie is doing the Science Explorer Life Science books, and she’s almost done with From Bacteria to Plants. She seems to like it all right, and has been getting As and Bs on her exams.

Latin
The older two kids and I are doing Latina Christiana I – and I love it! Noah seems to enjoy it, too – mostly because it’s like a puzzle. Natalie thinks I’m torturing her, but likes that she gets to correct my papers. We took our first unit exam today, and we all got As.

Read-aloud
We started the school year reading Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, which was a hit all around, and are now halfway through The Purloined Boy by Mortimus Clay – it’s brilliant. (The kids think so, too.)

Outside classes
The kids are taking a break from Tae Kwon Do. Natalie continues to take voice lessons. Noah is taking a P.E. class, and all four of them are taking a computer science class.

So, that’s how our school year is going so far. How’s yours?

Links for Friday on Saturday

October 10, 2009 Categories: Extreme Health Makeover , Faith , Homeschooling , News , This and That | 5 Comments  

It’s been a while since I did an update post – and things are always crazy-busy, so here’s the bullet-points version:

~ It’s gotten cold here – we’re running the furnace in the mornings. I’m ready for fall, but praying that we don’t have record snowfall like last winter.

~ Project health makeover is going well. Kevin told me he can see my weight loss in my face. My jeans are loose, too.

~ Michelle is back from England, and I’m loving our weekly chatfests again.

~ I’m going to participate in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. Wish me luck. I’m trying to talk Natalie and Noah into joining me.

~ I’m also going to take part in the 24-Hour Read-a-thon. Michelle’s taking the boys for a sleepover, and I’m hoping Natalie will be invited somewhere, too.

~ My sister Debra and her ex-husband – who divorced a few months ago – are in counseling and working toward reconciliation. This makes me very happy.

~ I talked to my youngest sister, Marni, on the phone today for an hour and a half. She lives in St. Louis – clear across the country. I miss her. I miss all three of my sisters, and I’m very glad that we’re all getting together in June.

~ I’ve decided that Natalie’s hatred of her history curriculum is not her fault, but the curriculum’s, so am considering a change. (Any ideas? She’s in 7th grade, studying American history from the Civil War through modern times. I’m considering The Story of US.)

~ Speaking of Natalie, it looks like she’ll be braces-free by Christmas, after 2 and a half years.

Well, I think that catches you up. Here are the links:

~ Cursive writing may be a fading skill

~ Buckets comic: Politics through the ages

~ Pictures that make you say ‘wow’: Photographers get up close and personal with wildlife

~ 20 centuries of church history in 4 minutes and 17 seconds

~ “Your Navel Never Lacks Blended Grape Juice”: A More Biblical Study on Alleged “Wine”

~ Confessions of a homeschooler

~ Why Roman Polanski can rot in jail for all I care

~ ‘Whatever’ so totally tops most annoying word poll

On Books and Movies lately:

~ Book Review: Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden
~ Book recommendations from a non-blogger #4 – Rod (Dad)
~ Book Review: The Magicians by Lev Grossman
~ Literary Road Trip: Author Lorie Ann Grover
~ Book Review: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
~ Book Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
~ Book recommendations from a non-blogger #3 – Teresa (Mom)
~ Book Review: Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich
~ Book Review: Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich
~ Book recommendations from a non-blogger #2 – Marni (my sister)
~ Literary Road Trip: Author Dia Calhoun
~ Book Review: The Promised World by Lisa Tucker
~ Book Review: The Purloined Boy by Mortimus Clay
~ Book Review: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Kid Quips

October 3, 2009 Categories: Kid Stuff | 3 Comments  

I brought home a new lamp for our bedroom the other day.

Natalie: Ancient Lamp?

Me: No, that says “accent lamp.”

Jonathan: It speaks?