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Fall & the Holidays


imageThe fall was busy as usual.

Daily outings:

Monday – hippotherapy

Tuesday – speech therapy & Park Day

Wednesday – 4-H, Forest School and OT

Thursday – violin private class

Friday – Co-op

Saturday – group violin


Even with this busy schedule we managed to stay home until after lunch Monday – Thursday.  We tried a new scheduling and learning approach.  Cisco got one hour per day to do arts and crafts and reading time with Mommy (brother liked participating too). Big Brother then got an hour of my time so we could work on projects and reading together.

Big Brother tried his hand at having more freedom to control his learning.  He did Beast Academy for math, cursive practice, a Brave Writer beginner Writing class with mom, Sassafras Biology and geography.  He had a checklist he had to cover each week.  I also had bins for the main topics that he could choose activities from.  I got the idea from the Savvy Homeschool Moms Podcast.


It worked great for awhile.  He had a great time.  Then a few appointments and distractions left him unmotivated and turned into arguments and decreased ability to finish.  It is one of the difficulties we have time and time again.  If I’m not fully engaged and continually motivating, he looses interest.  Then we took thanksgiving to new years off to focus on holiday crafting and holiday time off.

Big Brother is now trying “Homeschooling Boys Library Based Curriculum Journal.” The jury is still out on this one.  Big Brother says he liked picking his own topics and books for this but we had trouble with motivation.  I’m hoping it goes better this coming week.

The holidays were spent at home.  Thanksgiving was hosted at our house with our two single guy friends joining us.  It was nice enough outside to enjoy sitting on the patio table while the turkey cooked in the smoker all day.  Christmas Eve was at home and Christmas Day we were with our dear friends we’ve spent Christmas with each Christmas for years.  We made crochet wash clothes, pictures, photo books and necklaces for gifts.  The boys enjoyed getting lots of gifts including a sturdy Melissa and Doug shopping cart for Cisco he used constantly for several days and Duplo, and Dr. Who LEGO and a Robotic Arm enjoyed by Big Brother.image image image imageimage



About Me by Big Brother Part 2 of 2


About Me by Big Brother Part 1 of 2


This past winter we heard a Savvy Homeschool Mom Episode where the kids did a Q&A interview about themselves.  This inspiredBig Brother to do his own version.  Here is his interview in two parts.



The Learning Pod


Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
With a little idea searching on my part and the woodworking capabilities of my hubby, Cisco got an early 2nd birthday gift this weekend.  My wonderful husband made Cisco what I’ll call a ” Learning Pod” inspired by the popular Learning Tower and its European “cousin” the FunPod.  

Cisco has become increasingly interested in what we are doing in the kitchen and wanting us to hold him at our level while there.  I started putting him in his Keekaroo highchair (another great invention) by me in the kitchen but really felt he needed to be more a  part of the action.  I started to remember a friend that had a Learning Tower and it seemed perfect except it has a huge footprint that wouldn’t work too well in my small kitchen and it also was very open.  The latter would be a benefit to an “average” developing child for the accessibility of crawling in and out but my little guy is just not strong or balanced enough for me to feel comfortable with him in something so open nor could he crawl in and out at this point.  Then I found the FunPod.  Perfect except the price tag so I was able to convince Dad to make it with Big Brother as a birthday gift.  It took them a day and a half plus about $80 (over 1/2 off a FunPod) to make and it is perfect.  He’ll deny it if you ask him but my hubby is so handy!  

Cisco is loving his Learning Pod.  He has especially enjoyed access to the drawers so he can empty them.

Physical Fitness


Tae kwon do was a hit this year.  We started it in the fall as Mom and son in an attempt to find the elusive sport that is his sport.  We found it for him but not for Mom.  It was too tough on Cisco to be without me during the evenings when he was generally grumpy anyway and the structure was a bit for me.  I have never done well with pushy coaches and giving 110% (what the heck does that mean?). I’ve also never done very well with authority so felt silly calling all the TKD coaches sir especially since they were all younger then me.  That said, dad ended up wanted to start up again.  They allowed him to start Back with the belt he ended as when he stopped at 12 years old.  The two of them have happily been going strong for almost a year now. 



In 2012-13 we continued with suzuki violin.  Big Brother stayed positive all year but I felt burnt out by the end of the year.  With that and our move we’ve taken a month off of lessons and practicing lightly.  We are also taking the opportunity to brush up on note reading.  Our teacher is amazing and always keeps class fun even if it is hard work.  I do find that the assignment load can get quite heavy.  Daily we are to practice our newest song, special listening (listening to and memorizing the name of a classical violin piece), our study list (twinkles and a growing list as we advance that is presently at about 3 songs), poem memorization, by ear tune (where he practices a song he learned by ear that isn’t suzuki), listen to our Cd, and practice our note card memorization.  I find the playing is doable daily but we often struggle getting the other items in.  Luckily Big Brother is maturing and does pretty well practicing on his own but mom struggles to find the time to watch and make sure it goes well.  I’m hping this break will give me new energy to work hard for my generally enthusiastic player.

We took on various crafts and art projects this year.  Big Brother designed and wrote countless cards for friends and family.  I helped him make a waldorf doll for his brother.  We also did art projects in History group such as sugar cube Roman Arches.



We started last school year rotating Science and History every other week with our History group.  Our group found it was too disjointed and didn’t do either subject justice.  We were using Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (BFSU).  It worked for some of our families and didn’t work for others.  Our family really enjoyed BFSU and made great progress on our own after we dropped science from our co-op.  I liked that I had BFSU as a jumping off board and Big Brother enjoyed the topics and experiments we did for each topic.  BFSU is a curriculum that integrates all the sciences and each topic builds on the one before.  There are 4 main categories and you can mix and match them as long as you have completed the prerequisite for each topic.  It is designed for k-2 but does have a follow on and it is recommended by the author that all students begin at BFSU regardless of age/grade to get the needed foundations for future scientific studies.   You also have the freedom of going the pace you want.  We made it almost half way through, I blame all the house hunting and moving on the fact that we didn’t make it further as planned.  BFSU is a keeper and we look forward to continuing with it this coming year.

For nature study, we attended Forest school and 4-H.  Our forest school allowed the kids to explore the creek and woods independently with parents earshot away to keep eye and answer inquires.  Our 4- h group went once a month to a new natural space each time.  We explored Mason Neck (my favorite), Hidden Oaks, the Botanical Center, the Arboretum and more.  We plan to combine these 2 activities this coming year.  They were both successes but to open up schedules, we’ve decided to combine.  Most people ae members of both.

Big Brother Also has an engineering side and has become very interested and apt at LEGO building.  For the winter and spring we participated monthly in a homeschool LEGO Club that brought a new level of creativity to Big Brothers LEGO building.  He’d get so inspired by everyone else’s creations.  Both science and art.



Here is what worked and didn’t work for History last year. More to follow soon on how the new school year is going.

We continued with our history group from last year and covered Medieval times.  The group decided we no longer wanted to follow Story of the World (SOTW) as a group but wanted to use the Usborne History Encyclopedia as the basis of our studies.  However,  Big Brother still wanted to listen to SOTW2 so he did at bedtime.  This year had less structure and it was difficult to engage the kids, they mostly just wanted to play although Big Brother did enjoy the reading and listening when it was just the two of us.  I think removing SOTW as the foundation was a contributor as well as us choosing to probably be too laid back for the kids to feel they needed to be structured enough to participate so as one strayed they all soon followed.  We tried a couple field trips with the group and also didn’t feel this worked very well for us.  Big Brother and I like to go through the museum slowly and read everything.  We quickly got left behind and then Big Brother soon gave up on focusing on the museum.  I think museum trips would be better for us alone.  For various reasons, history group just didn’t work well this year and all participants agreed so we are probably going to discontinue history group but continue with something different to get the kids together who have become very close.  Our family will probably continue with Story of the World on our own.  Even though I don’t always agree with the order or what the author chose to focus on, I find it to be a good starting point for us as my son just loves listening to Jim Weiss and the storybook like format.

What worked in our Homeschool 2012-13


It has been well over a year and I still feel that my reading “The Minds of Boys” was the best thing I did for our homeschool and my sons.  I feel it gave me the freedom to follow my son’s lead and realize that he not just wants to but needs to be active to learn.  It has transformed our homeschool and has left it more harmonious and enjoyable for all.

I will provide a subject by subject summary of what we tried and what worked and what didn’t work for us this past school year over the next few days.  Big Brother started out the year as a 6 year old and ended it as a 7 year old.  He was officially a first grader but I do not focus on grade level and just go at my son’s pace (one of our success in homeschooling this year).  

First Nerology Appointment


Today was a long day. While DS1 stayed with our neighbor for several hours making us dinner (yes, I have an amazing neighbor) and playing Legos, Ds2 and I met with Dr. Avery, a pediatric Opto-neurologist, today.  He agreed with the pediatric ophthalmologists diagnoses of OMA and strabismus.  He was impressed the ophthalmologist picked up on the OMA, as it was so subtle.  He also gave DS2 the “Easiest dilated 7 month old exam” award.  He was so tolerant of it all.  Although, DS2 wasn’t so happy with the blood draw later.  The doctor said that he would like to see an MRI but it is no rush.  He felt confident there is no indications this is caused by a tumor or something else progressive (I was relieved to hear that) but an MRI might help us to point to a cause.  Papi and I are still weighing the pros and cons of now versus waiting until he’s a little older.  We are leaning toward waiting until he is 1 or 1.5.

I also wanted to mention, this was the first time I’d ever been to a children’s hospital.  National Children’s felt so welcoming.  Everyone was so helpful, even random people in the halls offered to help when I looked around confused.  I enjoyed all the bright colors.  I spent a fair amount of time at the hospital with my mother this summer.  It was so depressing.  All hospitals should have brightly colored walls.