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Hitting Our Stride and a Field Trip - Collage Friday


Next week will be the beginning of our new school schedule.

The decision to join Classical Conversations has given me a peace I didn't anticipate. I knew we were ready for a change, but just how ready I didn't realize until the past couple of weeks.

A good friend of mine pointed out to me that my writing is "less searching, more settled and comfortable."

I think she knows me very well.

I felt a bit lost last year - we were schooling and things were ok, but I just knew they could be better.

Part of this was admitting to myself that both of my kids can no longer do their subjects together. They have grown into DRAMATICALLY different learners and I need to treat them as such.

My seventh grader needs structure, accountability, goals, and a similar peer group.  This means more independent work for her and different work than her brother is doing.

My third grader still needs to create, explore, soak up all the facts he can, and have more individual help from me.

I now see last year for what it was - a year of growth, searching, and ultimately -  decisions. 

Our school year has started and the changes are in effect and it's working beautifully.

{Can you hear a big sigh through your computer?}

 Anna's Week and Resources

This was kind of a practice week for Anna. Once Challenge A starts next week she will have lots of at home work.

We have a picnic (tonight) with all of the Challenge families in our community. I'm looking forward to sharing learning and life with them this year.


I took the above picture of Anna when we were swimming over the weekend. It struck me how DIFFERENT she looks now - with her braces and just changing so much. I will admit this has been hard for me to come to terms with. I'm sad my little girl is growing up. 

I think the transition from little girl into pre-teen/teenager is so hard. I can watch Anna daily forming opinions and finding her place in the world. It's not always easy, but I'm happy she is at home so her dad and I can guide her. I often wonder what it would be like if she had a pack of pre-teens guiding her all day every day... thank goodness she doesn't. 

In preparation for lots of math this year we played the Number Ladder Game. If you have never played, you really should!  The Number Ladder site is no longer available, but you can still buy the Number Jugglers book. My kids love it - it is a great way to practice basic math facts, and also great for those pre-algebra students like Anna.

In a tour of our learning spaces earlier this week I pointed out that Anna has her own study space upstairs this year. So far, so good. She has gotten lots of zebra accessories for her desk and has her own bookshelf and cubbies up there.

(She remarked to me that the only reason she would want to go to middle school would be so she could have a locker. My response to her: "You want a locker? I can BUY you a locker and put it in your room!" She just might take me up on it, too!)

I'm stressing mildly about Latin, but it will be ok! Reading the intro to her Henle Latin book together shed a lot of light on WHY we study Latin and the tremendous benefits studying Latin has in other areas of our lives.

I'm following the Challenge A guide to the letter. It details every single assignment for every single week and gives lots of helpful teaching tips for the parents. I am feeling equipped to give Anna the very best education possible - and I didn't have to cobble it together myself, which was giving me anxiety last year. 

She still had time this week to read voraciously and create with Sculpey.  She also committed herself to doing 45 minutes of Wii Fit each afternoon and also doing an ab challenge with her dad. I'm so proud of her for sticking with it! 

Piano lessons started back up this week and her children's chorus kickoff day is next weekend. 

She is going to be a busy, happy girl this year.

Grant's Week and Resources

My little stinker is happily back into a school routine.

God gave Grant the gift of being easy going, happy, and unflappable. 

The picture of my husband and Grant in the pool sums up his life right now - he lives each moment with gusto and joy. {I am trying to learn to be more like that!}

Grant's life is heavily revolving around baseball these days. We put together a huge baseball puzzle a few weeks ago and framed it for in his room, along with another baseball puzzle we had.

He is still enjoying all of the sports books by Matt Christopher - this week's read is Slam Dunk. 

Another favorite book this week was H is for Home Run.

Before Classical Conversations starts in 2 weeks I am doing a little bit of fun science with Grant - out of the Angry Birds Furious Forces book. It's been such fun! How cool is it to set up your Angry Birds game and play during the school day - the book even gives suggestions for playing the Angry Birds app.

There's also been a lot of LEGO buidling, and several walks this week where Grant has been practicing his "sprints" in preparation for fall baseball starting very soon. 

Oh, and he had his first piano lesson this week, too. 

He can't be old enough for all of this, can he?

People Amaze Me - Our Field Trip

* (Warning: this next part of the post can be considered a rant. Read at your own risk.)

We start our mornings with devotions and watching CNN Student News. We love the CNN program because it is short (10 minutes) and covers current events. It's appropriate for upper elementary to high school kids. (Plus it's kind of cool that the host, Carl Azuz, was a student of my sister-in-law's several years ago!)

I posted a picture of the kids watching CNN Student News on the blog's Facebook page earlier in the week. 

My goodness. You would have thought I had done something illegal. I got some very nasty comments about what a terrible way this was to start our day, why we should only watch FOX News, and how dare I watch the Communist News Network with my children.


People amaze me.

I doubt these same people would ring my doorbell and say these things to my face, yet they feel free to just type inane, hateful comments on Facebook. 


(Oh, and I also got a not so nice email from someone who was upset that I shared a blog post from Penelope Trunk. I just love how we live in a world where everyone is so FREE to share their opinions.)

While I do not always agree with some of the political leanings of CNN, I certainly enjoy their student news broadcast and want my children to be exposed to a variety of news sources. I want to teach them discernment and how to live IN this world (even though we don't have to be OF this world). 

So, if you are upset that we watch CNN Student New you probably don't want to hear about field trip to CNN Center to take a newsroom tour, either.

Tuesday morning we headed downtown to the massive complex of CNN Center, The Georgia Dome, The World Congress Center, and the Omni Hotel. 

We took a one hour tour of the CNN Studios and it was very interesting. The kids learned a lot about how a broadcast is done, different jobs people can have at CNN, and also they saw where Carl Azuz films the student news.

It's also just fun to go downtown. I remember being shell shocked the first time I had to navigate a big city (which wasn't until I was in college). I want my kids to know that just because it's big doesn't mean you have to be afraid to explore and try new things. 

After our tour we swung by my husband's office (which is just a couple of blocks from CNN) and we all went to lunch at the best restaurant ever, Home Grown.  

If you live in or around Atlanta, you MUST go there. I had the Macs Attack - fried mac&cheese, a hamburger patty, mozzarella cheese, spinach, bacon, and tomato -- on Texas Toast.  (ok, so I totally blew my diet)

Getting Personal

I have a very heavy heart right now - several people we know are battling cancer. My dear father-in-law is having some health problems. Another sweet friend is going through major family health issues. 

I'm learning that the only way to have peace is to stay steeped in God's word, pray, and then focus on my call to help others and educate my children.  We don't know the number of our days, and it's up to us to make each one of those days count.

Each morning as I am having my coffee and quiet time, I can hear the school bus outside. I can see parents taking their children to school. I am SO thankful to be out of the hamster wheel and really living life with my kids. 

I remember the days when we were all so disconnected because of activities and school schedules. I remember being at the mercy of the "school" for our entire schedule.   

Life doesn't have to be that way, and in times when there are illnesses or difficulties I am reminded once again why I believe so fervently in home education. 

A BIG Event!

Please mark your calendars, set an alarm - whatever you need to do - to remember the iHomeschool Network's Omnibus! It will be a collection of over 90 eBooks from well known homeschool authors.  SQUILT will be a part of this collection, so if you haven't purchased it, you may want to get it then.

Best news? All of the books together are only $25. 

Check here Tuesday morning (beginning at 12 a.m.) for the sale and it will continue through midnight on August 25. 


So, that's our week in a nutshell. Lots of learning, a fun field trip, and living life! 

How was your week?


** Please join me for Collage Friday! Share your photo collages from your homeschool week. I will delete any links that do not contain photo collages.

Grab a button from my sidebar, or text link back to this post in some way. 

Visit other bloggers in the link-up to gain ideas and offer support. Our community is a wonderful way to make friends, educate ourselves, and see we are not alone in our struggles! 

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Reader Comments (22) can't please all of the people all of the time, and nor should you try. Many people have strong opinions but ultimately we are only answerable for the choices we make for our own life.
Your year ahead sounds full of good things. I've toyed with the idea of using some curriculum this year instead of doing it all myself, and I think I'll be using some for the younger set. I hope you all have a fantastic school year!

I'm sorry to hear of the nasty responses you've been getting. It is hard to please everyone, and may not be worth the effort in the best of times. Hope you have a better week next week, and all the best to a very successful new academic year!

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHwee

I agree! This growing up business is sometimes so tough to watch! But a huge privilege at the same time - as you pointed out. What a great week of hitting your stride, field trips and building memories.

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTricia

Since I also have a 7th grade daughter, I loved reading about all that your daughter will be doing this year! We're heading to Atlanta in October and planning to tour the CNN studio, so I enjoyed hearing your thoughts on that as well! Hope y'all have a great school year!

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTracey

Your dd is looking so grown up. We seem to be in the same boat when it comes to changing how we educate this year. Have a wonderful year. We enjoy CNN student news. The kids and I watch it everyday. I think people in this country are filled with great fear and with fear comes hate, control and suppression. Don't worry about what others say. Raising your children to be able to think for themselves will lead them more into a faithful adulthood then blind obedience. huh! Wonder if I will get some hateful comments for that one! My point is, you are doing a great job.
Blessings, Dawn

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

I can't even picture when my girls are pre teens...sigh...time flies! I love that you are sooo set and at ease with CC and your start to a new exciting adventure in Home Educating the kids. I also see that the kids need to be in different directions and not all sit together and learn...Z is just sooo far advanced at this stage compared to the girls.

So sorry about the others getting personal with you...Love this quote "So, if you are upset that we watch CNN Student New you probably don't want to hear about field trip to CNN Center to take a newsroom tour, either." LOL

HUZZAH - so proud of you on the SQUILT - you are rocking it! But we need more LEGO Writing Prompts...(that is Z asking to you guys!


Need another NYC Trip! Come on up!

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermelissa newell

You sound very comfortable with where you are, Mary - so lovely to hear someone in that place :-)

I could take some tips from Anna's Wii fit habit ... really need to get back into an exercise routine!

We're almost-unschooling next year but we love Latin. I learned it at school and it has helped so much with other languages, English vocabulary, and my general interest in etymology. I'm learning Ancient Greek now just for fun!

Off to check out the Angry Birds book now ...

Thanks for hosting - have a great weekend! have a lot packed into this post. I love your week and I am pleased that you are happy with your curriculum choice this year. I am sorry you were given flack. It is amazing what people will say in writing. Thank you for being you.

Once again your blog is an inspiration to me! I know I have told you before, but your blog was the first blog I read when we were trying to decide about homeschooling! It helped me then and it still helps me today! :)

Last year was a bad year for us. I felt like we couldn't get it together for some reason. I was determined to make this year better & Classical Conversations kind of fell into our laps! We have a new local group starting in our town this year. There are only 4 families (& we all know each other) right now and we are very excited about this new adventure! It really does feel like the missing link in our home school. Maybe I can join in on Collage Friday next week! :)

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAbby

I may have to try and get my hands on the Number Jugglers book. It looks great!! I love a good math game. FYI... the link to how to play the number ladder game doesn't work anymore. It looks like that site is gone. Rats.

I'm also going to check out the CNN student news. My ds is a news watcher, and just the fact that people criticized it makes me want to check it out even more. LOL! Have a great day!

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCindy B.

Wow! I feel like we share so many similar things this week .. preteen daughter growing up too fast, father-in-law and mother-in-law battling health issues, and I'm still on the fence about CC. I haven't joined yet but a close friend is always telling me about what they do and I love it .. just not sure I am ready, but like you, I am discovering it is harder to teach the kids together anymore. Hugs!

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEva Varga

It is so hard to watch these preteen girls grow up from our small children into teenagers. Everyday I see something new about Amber and wish I had more time with the child. But as I tell her on the days she doesn't want to grow up, God has it planned at the correct pace. It's time for it to happen when it happens.

Amber has indicated that the only reason she wants to go to high school is a locker and prom? I told her I could buy her a locker too! It's so funny that one of the things that I hated about jr high and high school is one of Amber's main reasons for wanting to go.

You do a great job with your kids and don't let other people get you down. Some people just have to nitpick at everything that isn't exactly how they do it.

Have a great weekend!

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChristy

We had a practice week last week too, and got into the groove of things this week big time, and boy it was hard.

People are stupid sometimes......

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTicia

I am excited to hear about your year with classical conversations. My daughter is also starting 7th grade but she has some learning issues and I knew challenge A would be struggle for her. So we are trying to do it on our own at home. I am also going to check out CNN student news I think my daughter would enjoy it. Sounds like your tour was great! Blessings, Dana from CA

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDana

Thank you Mary, for hosting!
Your pics look awesome!

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChris

Would CNN student news be appropriate for my girls--ages 9 & 7? I used to use a CNN student news program back when I taught public high school, but I'm not sure it's the same thing.

Blessings on your year, friend.

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmy @ Hope Is the Word

Don't let peoples lack of vision or Gods calling cast a shadow over you.

When I was 25 I made it to Vice President over Finance at a major entertainment studio. People would tell me how I worked for the devil. Within months I was able to change the office, create a bible study and start to produce family friendly TV and movies. Gods ministry is everywhere, lets try not to judge- but encourage one another.

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSheri

LOL! Communist Network News, I've never heard it called that before. CNN and Penelope Trunk? You are so edgy!! I'm glad you are feeling settled with your decision for Classical Conversation, it sounds like a wonderful fit for your family. I always look forward to your Friday posts, I'll be back to linking up next week. Have a great weekend!!!

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJen @ Forever, For Always

Huge LIKE for all of this post! You do such a great job communicating and encouraging all of us! Now I need to go order two of the LEGO books before the sale is over! Looking forward to a great year with you!

August 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKim Green

I can so identify with your feelings about homeschooling! I thank God often that I am home with my kids and that we get to live life in such a close knit way! You are an encouragement to me that I can do this! God bless you and your family! Thanks for being so real!

August 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany Good

I so love your blog and appreciate your transparency and perspective on many things!! While I don't agree with some of what Penelope shares on her blog, I was actually challenged by reading some of her posts, thanks to your link. We don't all have to agree on everything and it's good to read other people's perspective on things to gain a heart of understanding, compassion and connect ability. I also want to thank you for your suggestion on the sports books. My son is going to love these! Just requested a few from the library.
Thanks for your encouragement and taking the time to share with others!

August 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

So glad to hear the peace in your "voice" Mary, and I pray for a great year for all of you.

And I second the buy-a-locker idea. We have them and it's fun. Now I just need to add combination locks so they can have bad dreams about forgetting their combination! Or am I the only one with those kind of dreams...

August 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi @ Home Schoolroom

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