Obligatory Curriculum Post

In CategoryHome Schooling, Navel Gazing

So my friend, Tressa, she of the “we’ve mastered All The Latin, Now Onto Greek” homeschool of more excellence than I can ever hope to attain, tagged me for the yearly Let’s Talk About Curriculum post that all us homeschoolers feel compelled to write.

Big is 4th grade-ish this year, something which I cannot seem to get through my head, to the point where I reach for his little sister’s books when I work with him because to me he is still seven. Truly, I feel like the last two years have slipped by without my even registering them, but if I think about that too hard I will cry. Fourth grade? No one around here is old enough for FOURTH GRADE, that’s just nonsense.

When I was in fourth grade, I had Mrs. Nosamond, my least favorite teacher ever and I stole gum out of her drawer during one recess. I STOLE something! I just remembered that. Perhaps I was a bad child. The things I remember most about fourth grade were Mrs. Nosamond reading aloud to us, which was my favorite thing, and also pretty much being in my own little world. A new girl had moved to town and stolen my best friend (Deena, that cow. How I detested her. Or was it Amanda? Either way.), so most of my fourth grade memories are of things that happened in my own imagination.

I read pretty much all through elementary school, openly ignoring the teachers in favor of Harriet the Spy. In retrospect, I can’t believe I got away with that, but perhaps one mousy little girl reading silently was the least of their teacherly problems. It’s strange to see our childhood selves through the lens of adulthood, isn’t it? Sometimes I want to go back and pat Little Deb and tell her to be herself because none of those people matter.


In my attempts to simplify All The Things, I have tried to also minimize school, weeding out the things that seem arbitrary and pointless (like cursive. sorry, I’m in the Cursive is Stupid camp. judge me if you must), and keeping only the important stuff. In spite of these efforts, there are still so many subjects that fall into the important camp and I find myself once again with an uncomfortably large list.

To wit –

• Math. Math will be Math-U-See as per usual. My more experienced friends (Tressa and Melanie, both of whom have kids in college whilst managing to be younger than me) advised me in the beginning to just pick something and stick with it when it comes to math, and that is my plan. MUS is terrific and there is no need for me to be seduced away by glowing reviews of Teaching Textbooks.

• Spelling. Spelling is All About Spelling, which I love. You can read about my love affair with AAS here.

• Latin. Latin is Prima Latina from Memoria Press. I have never really been attacked by strangers about homeschooling (except once)(I think I do not have the kind of body language that invites rude questioning), but every time I bring up Latin to anyone – especially homeschoolers – I have to defend it. It’s so weird.

So those are the Big Three, the We Are Doing These Every Day So Suck It Up Buttercup subjects.

Other stuff –

• History. Still carrying on with reading aloud from my cobbled together living book list. I bought the Early American History pack from Beautiful Feet and then backfilled the gaps with some of the books listed in All Through the Ages. In truth, I suck at history, but it’s on my list of things to Improve At For Crap’s Sake Deb, Do You Want Your Kids To Be The Kind Of People Who Think Bengazi Is Hilary’s Running Mate?

• Science. My kids are very science-y in general, so I’ve never sweated science too much (periodic red cabbage murdering notwithstanding), but figure getting in the broad strokes is probably a good idea. I bought both the 4th and 2nd grade bundles of Real Science 4 Kids Building Blocks. I got a sale email the day before we started school and went for it. It’s not here yet. Because planning!

• Grammar. I have been assured that grammar is A Good Thing, especially for the Latin set, and after buying and discarding eleventy-five intimidating grammar programs (seriously, I took one look at Rod & Staff’s grammar and had a panic attack, but at least I wasted $35), finally settled on Growing with Grammar, which I like a lot and Big tolerates. It is incredibly priced, which is a nice bonus.

• Language Arts. Beyond spelling and grammar, I am planning on not doing any other language arts this year. I know a lot of people start writing around this time, but I don’t think Big is ready. As far as Literature, I just buy books. He told me last year that HAVING to read something ruined it for him and in an uncharacteristic fit of Doing Something Right, I have decided to just stop. He is a voracious reader, like I was at that age, and beyond chucking good books at him, I’m out of it. I’m better served saving my energy for long division.

• I should start Outlining, which I think happens around this year? I know Rod & Staff covers it, but what with my irrational fear of R&S, I will need to find something else. Thoughts? Do you all teach outlining? I know the Classical types do, please advise.

Okay, so that’s it! Plus also we are taking a homesteading class at a local museum, plus I am working on figuring out some extracurriculars like ice skating or gymnastics or ballet or horseback riding. My main problem with extracurriculars being I hate leaving my house, so I’ll need to work on that too. Dang it.

Happy homeschooling, y’all!

I realize I only talked about Big in this discussion, but Little will be doing all of the above as well, just at her level. Except Latin, which they will be doing together, particularly if Big doesn’t stop being so obstinate.

Oh look! Melanie already covered outlining here. I will just make a note to remind myself next year. Melanie has had quite a lot of good advice for me over the years. Like this one on formal literature. I have Mel to thank for the Chuck Good Books At Them plan. More here. Oh look, she wrote to me here, too! And here!

A Day in the Life

In CategoryHome Schooling, Navel Gazing


Because my son is driving me insane and my eyeballs might actually explode from repressing the inner screams if I don’t vent SOMEwhere, I am pleased to present A Day In The Life.

7:30 am
Kids come get into bed with me to snuggle. This turns into a discussion wherein Little notices her hair is getting darker. I said that my hair was lighter when I was a little girl and hers might eventually darken too. Her response was giant crocodile tears spilling down her cheeks while she wailed, “but I want to stay beautiful!”

I was like, “so if your hair turns dark like mine, you will not be beautiful anymore?” and she says, wrinkling her nose, “your hair is just so BROWN.” and I go, “like poop, you mean? I HAVE POOP HAIR, LITTLE, IS THAT WHAT YOU ARE SAYING?” which I can barely get out because I am laughing so hard because I am an eleven year old boy.

She, naturally, continues crying and trying to tell me that I AM beautiful, but not in the same WAY because of my unfortunately colored hair. Apparently, my poop-colored hair is only redeemed by all the shiny silver hairs. This goes on for a long time, with me dragging her brother into it and asking Little if Big is also hideous like me, and her continual assertions that I am cute, just not in the best way possible. I am practically convulsing at this point.

She is patting my hair and sifting through it to find the less offensive silver hairs, when she then goes, “your hair IS pretty mommy, except right there where there isn’t any.” Which is suddenly less funny because now I not only have BROWN hair, it is also patchy and balding. I start groping my own head looking for this bald spot and protesting that I probably just slept on it funny and making mental notes to ask Jim if there really IS a bald spot. I thought Big was going to pee himself from laughing. Eventually she decides that my hair isn’t poopy, it’s just boring.

Obviously, I dish out some reminders that what makes a person beautiful is what’s on the inside and being kind is more important than being pretty and blah-blah-blah. I’m thinking those of us with patchy bald poo hair start out behind, though.

9:00 am
I decide that it’s time to quit this nonsense, and we should get up and do something productive. The kids fling themselves against the door at this announcement and tell me that we are going to stay in bed all day and they won’t let me out. I change the sheets and tidy up while they concoct elaborate plans to keep me from escaping. Eventually they both make the mistake of leaving and I promptly lock the door.

I pass notes under the door while they tried to pick the lock.







10:30 am
I decide that we need to get with it, so I call Big down to do schoolwork. I make a stack of everything he can do independently and tell him to make it happen. He alternates between complaining that Little isn’t going first and saying he wants to stay with me and work on my desk, thus making it impossible for me to work with Little at the same time. **eyeroll**

11:00 am – 11:30 am
I nag him to stop staring into space, stop tearing tiny bits off the edges of the papers, stop scribbling on everything and GET TO WORK FOR THE LOVE.

11:40 am
I tell him I won’t be making lunch until his work is done. (so mean!)

11:45 am
He sort of starts working, but mostly seems to be developing a code that I will have to translate before I can check his work. I threaten to print out the page again for him to do-over if I see so much as a hint of anything code-like on the page.

11:50 am
He enthusiastically extols the virtues of his math code and studiously writes it all down on scratch paper to save for his sister to use in two years. I make lunch for Little.

11:55 am
Big starts singing a theme song for his code, and asks me to vote on which variation I like best. I laugh, and wonder if I am going mad.

Little’s lunch (leftover pizza) smells so good, it spurs him to get his stupid page done. I make his lunch. I write this story and yell at people to CHEW WITH THEIR MOUTHS CLOSED OR GO OUTSIDE. (I said I was mean. Keep up.)

2:00 pm
I get them settled with their kindles and take a shower. Nothing says classy like finally putting on a bra in the middle of the afternoon.

3:00 pm
Go grocery shopping. Leave all kids behind, where they are their dad’s problem. Cackle evilly in my head and remember that Safeway has a Starbucks in it. Probably it’s a sign.

5:00 pm
Home from the store and wondering if I can possibly get out of cooking dinner.

Feel happy tomorrow is knitting day.


For more Day In The Life posts, see here and here.


In CategoryHome Schooling, Navel Gazing

You guys. I have never seen so many kids with their fingers up their noses in one place.

Okay, so we went to our gymnastics free trial lesson to see how Little liked it.

She liked it just fine, but I was a nervous wreck. Because unsocialized. I am always nervous about events with other kids. I want my kids to be, like, normal and stuff, but in order to do that, you have to go hang out with other kids and other kids are scary, yo. Scary, scary nosepickers.

Like, for reals. This little boy sitting next to us picked his nose, looked at it, put it back IN his nose (WHATISSSSSSHAPPENIIIINNNG???), and then rubbed his hands all over his mama’s face.

I about died.


They started out with warming up, i.e. running around and doing jumping jacks.

Here’s something: my homeschooler doesn’t know how to do jumping jacks. There was jumping, and there was arm-waving, but it wasn’t in concert. That’s how I know the other kids were public schoolers. Their ability to do PE. That, and the homework-nagging and excruciating reading aloud I was subjected to in the mom waiting room. Seriously, do you guys teach your kids how to do jumping jacks and push-ups and stuff? If I want my kids to get exercise, I chuck them outside and they race around chasing each other with sticks while I watch The Real Housewives. I never thought to have a regimen. Mom Fail.

Little had a pretty good time, but there were too many students per teacher (20-ish kids, 2 adults) to keep track of. There were 3 stations with balance beams, bars, and assorted cushion-y things. They divided the kids into 2 groups and each group went to each station in turn. The teacher spent about 3 minutes with each kid while the rest of them sort of milled around and did somersaults and played on the equipment.

CORRECTION. SOME of the kids did somersaults. My poor tiny homeschooler ALSO does not know how to do a somersault. She just sort of flung herself onto the giant cushion and then jumped up and ran off. Another Mom Fail! In my defense, I am 42 years old and do not do somersaults. Jim tried to show her once, but he’s 45 and about broke his neck. I felt horrid about my lack of tumbling training. I thought that’s WHAT THE LESSON WAS FOR. For the record, she can’t do a cartwheel either.

At the first station, they practiced somersaults and cartwheels, and bench-pressed the low parallel bars.

I was not a fan of the bench-pressing because Little almost dropped the whole UNPADDED STEEL CONTRAPTION on her head THREE TIMES.

Here, I’ve illustrated it for you –

Here are the low parallel bars:



How’s that? Oh, wait, here’s a better picture:

parallel bars

Okay, so the kids were supposed to lay in between the bars and bench-press them up and down for reasons that escape me. I suspect this is the gymnastics equivalent of homework worksheets, aka busywork, aka a complete waste of time.

So here’s Little, bench-pressing away:


are you judging my drawing? I can’t draw feet, leave me alone, you…you… you judgey-pants!

except she kept laying too close to the end of the bars and THREE TIMES this nearly happened:



I’m not even kidding. I was a nervous wreck. Oh, I said that already. There was not enough supervision. What do I know though? I often have anxiety when it comes to my kids and activities. Doesn’t one instructor for ten maniacal 7 year olds seem like not enough? Doesn’t bench-pressing parallel bars (the boys lifted them as high as they could go and then dropped them – one boy almost lopped off his toes) seem stupid and dangerous?


So. There you go. I deliberately chose a little gymnastics place where there wouldn’t be any pressure to join a team or make the Olympics or any of that serious stuff, but I DID rather expect more than an after-school program with 9 minutes of gymnastics instruction and 51 minutes of running around in an (undoubtedly booger-encrusted) padded room. Is that overly demanding?

You guys. I suck at this. Quick, commiserate with me.


In CategoryHome Schooling

So here’s an interesting tidbit on assignments in the New and Super Awesome Common Core of Education Excellence

A mother in the Bryant School District in Arkansas — a district using the controversial Common Core curriculum — was surprised to learn her sixth-grade daughter was given a team assignment to revise the Bill of Rights, pruning two amendments from the Constitution while adding two others, Twitchy reported Monday, citing a report at the Digital Journal.

The assignment made the assumption that the United States government has determined that the Bill of Rights “is outdated and may not remain in its current form any longer.”

The children were to assume the persona of “experts on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights” in their aim to ensure that “the pursuit of happiness remains guarded in the 21st century,” despite the fact that the phrase “pursuit of happiness” exists in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution.

The article goes on to further say that the 6th grader had never had any instruction in Civics or the Constitution.

Look around people. We are disintegrating.

One of the commenters quoted Sun Tzu –

To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence.