Trip to Philadelphia

Wayne was off for the federal holiday last Monday, but I was willing to take the day off school only if we did something. It’s not worth losing a day of school for everyone to watch Netflix and fight. So we decided to drive up to Philadelphia and go exploring. Even though we saw that rain was in the forecast, we optimistically assumed it wouldn’t rain that hard or for that long.

Well. We were wrong about that. It poured pretty much all day. Also, in our collective opinion, there’s not as much to see in Philly as we thought. Maybe on a pretty day it would have been nicer to walk around and admire the colonial architecture, but some of the free museums were closed on Mondays, and we didn’t want to pay $20/ticket for the others. And did I mention the weather was unpleasant?

We saw the Liberty Bell, about which the children knew nothing and so were unimpressed. Ben assumes this expression for any picture anywhere anytime, by the way.

Independence Hall was underwhelming. To see it requires (free) tickets with specific entrance times, and an attempt by a guide to make it more interesting. It’s basically 3 rooms with desks. I did get excited as we exited, because I recognized this staircase from the movie musical 1776, which I watch every year on July 4th.

Somehow the vision of actors playing John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin was more compelling than the fact that those actual men were there, doing the actual historic work of starting our country.

In my defense, the actors also sing.

Have you been to Philadelphia? Were you more impressed by the historic sites than we were? What did we miss?

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Seven Quick Takes ~ A School Room, an Amish Obsession and a Birthday

It’s been awhile since I did a SQT post.

  1. School started. I have an official school room this year, for the first time ever. It’s in the basement, which is unfinished, but it’s a space dedicated to school. Wayne made a huge whiteboard – it’s about 6 times bigger than the one I’ve been using for years – for about $30. He had to start framing that corner of the basement so he could hang the whiteboard. (He’ll work on the rest as he has time. It’s a long-term project.) We bought a table and 4 chairs at the Habitat for Humanity store for about $45, and got some carpet remnant to cover the concrete floor. We also have 2 smaller tables that the girls have used as desks for years. The kids sit at the main table when they’re working directly with me, and move to other seats when they’re working alone.

First day of grades 8, 6, and 3. This is my 9th year of homeschooling!

2. Ben turned NINE. This is hard for me to believe, probably because he’s small and he’s my baby. He had a party at home, with all his neighborhood friends (plus one from church). They played games, ate pizza, shot Nerf guns, and had ice cream cake.

3. We had some trees removed from our yard – 4 or 5 of them. The Bradford pear in the center of our front yard lost a large branch, thankfully in the direction of nothing. It was close enough to hit the house if a branch had fallen in a different direction. So to be safe, Wayne wanted to have it taken out. We also had several evergreens in the backyard which were mostly hanging over the neighbor’s fence and also taking up a lot of space in our rather small backyard. The neighbors were very glad to see them go, and we’re glad to have a little more yard.

4. Ben had his first violin lesson last week. He’s not terribly excited about learning, and he was very nervous about his first lesson, but afterward he said it wasn’t as bad as he expected. Though he was also careful to let me know that he “didn’t love it.”

5. Tendinitis is not fun. My elbow started hurting in early July. I thought I’d bruised it, but it didn’t get better. According to my internet research, I have tendinitis. I don’t know what caused it – my guilty suspicion is overuse of my index finger from phone screen scrolling and my laptop mouse. I am trying to be more aware of how I use my right hand – something that is forced upon me by the simple fact that my elbow hurts almost all the time and really hurts if I lift anything with that hand. I have started icing it as well.

6. Somehow I managed to skip writing “What I’m Reading” posts for the past 3 or 4 months. I’m hoping to catch up soon, but here’s the gist: I’ve been reading about the Amish. Obsessively. My children have begun to nervously assert WE’RE NOT BECOMING AMISH! Okay, fine, we don’t speak German and we do value education, but couldn’t we move to a rural area and start wearing simple dresses and throw out all our screens?


Just the dresses, then?

I have a lot of thoughts about this, actually, and I hope to find time to write about it soon.

7. Emma is swimming this fall and the schedule might kill me is having a great time making new friends and getting to know her new coaches. She’s swimming for the Y, which theoretically means I could be going to exercise classes while she’s in the water, but last week I was so so soooo tired and just sat in the car instead. Maybe this week I’ll do better.

You can read more Quick Takes here.

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August Highlights

It’s been a busy month. The kids and I traveled to my sister’s house in Pennsylvania for a few days. We played some music and took some walks.

Continue reading

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Last night I auditioned for a choir. I sang “Somewhere That’s Green” from Little Shop of Horrors, a song I have long loved. The director said he’d play for me; he butchered the song entirely but we made it through. I didn’t do as well on the sight reading as I thought I would, maybe because it was in a mode (I already forgot which one, it was like C minor but with A naturals). But in the end the director invited me to join the group, told me a little about it, and sent me on to the admin person who gave me further information and forms to fill out.

The group rehearses on Sunday evenings from September to May.

Tonight my pastor sent out an email informing the church that we will begin Sunday evening services next month.

I can’t do both. So what do I choose? To be a part of a challenging and enjoyable musical group? Or to join with my family and my church to end each Lord’s Day in corporate worship?

I’ve been thinking about it for a few hours, and there’s no way around it: I can’t skip church to be in the choir.  I’d love to be a part of this group; they perform once a month, so the pace is quick. Just the way I like it.  But our family does not skip church to pursue other activities. What kind of example would that be to my children? To others around me?

Maybe another music opportunity will come along, one that better fits my schedule. It was fun to audition (in a nervous sort of way) and I’m glad to know that I “made it.”

But if you’re looking for me on Sunday evenings, I’ll be at church.

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2017-2018 Homeschool Plans: Take Two

Never make your homeschool plans until AFTER you go to the conference.

I actually didn’t think I was going to be able to go to the Memoria Press conference until the last minute.

I went to a meeting about starting a classical co-op where a shockingly rude woman told me that my ideas were “really extreme” and “no one around here will want to do that” so then I decided I really, really needed to make it to the conference and spend some time with other extremists. 😉

The conference was wonderful and encouraging. And of course I left there with new plans for our school year.

My biggest take-away was STAY THE COURSE. Quit trying to change/add/substitute/tweak. Follow the plans. They are beautiful and good and well-thought-out and purposeful.

Also, if my ideas about education are extreme, I’m in good company. Continue reading

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Family Day – Five Years

Today marks 5 years since we went to Korea and became a family of 5.

He looks so scared in that picture. It makes my heart hurt.

And now we can’t imagine life without him. It’s weird that we’ve only known him for 5 years. It seems like he’s always been with us.

After looking at that picture this morning, I decided to take a picture of them in the same line up today. Abby was heading out to camp for the week, and Emma was leaving for swim practice, so I told them where to stand and quickly snapped a couple of pictures. Emma’s eyes are closed in one, and Ben looks sad/mad/irritated in the other. But at least he isn’t scared.

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Homeschool Plans for 2017-2018

*Updated plans here*

For the past three years I have used Memoria Press Core Curriculum, either fully or almost fully. I’m generally torn between MP and a Well-Trained Mind approach.  They’re really very similar and there’s plenty of overlap (Susan Wise Bauer recommends many MP products).

MP is workbook-heavy, and sometimes I get tired of all the workbooks. I start to think I can go free-wheelin’, making up my own lesson plans, Reading ALL the Books, and having the kids write about what they read.  It sounds so simple — until I try to plan it. Trying to do everything in WTM is like trying to get a sip of water from a fire hydrant. Every time I try to plan with that approach I start to drown.  Just check out one mom’s reading list for the Medieval period.

Invariably, I come back to my senses and acknowledge that the workbooks and the lesson plans I get with my Core are extremely helpful as I try to teach three full grade levels and keep my sanity.  Multum non multa.

In short, I love MP. Last year I swore that I was doing MP henceforth and forever, amen. Continue reading

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