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!

Random Monday

In CategoryRandom Monday


• Little made an astonishing breakthough this week in the Dishes Department, telling me, “HEY! If you use the scrubby side of the sponge it really helps get the gunk off!” I recall a similar epiphany her father had shortly after we were married, “Hey! Did you know if you rinse the dishes right after you eat, they are way easier to wash?” He was delighted with this realization, which I promptly confided to my mother in bewilderment (how does one get to be 25 and not know about rinsing? how?), and it might have been the first time we collectively shook our heads together over “men.”

• I thought this podcast was quite interesting – Why Doing Less is the Best Way to Do More. It had some new (to me) ways of thinking about things. Normally I never listen to podcasts, although I know people who extol the virtues of them often. In truth, podcasts mystify me. Where do you even find them? Is there some kind of library of them? It seems tedious to seek out the best ones, and in any event, my house is never quiet. Besides, I have a little something called a radio and people’s voices come out of it with virtually no effort from me. 

• I quite liked this post – Happy to Homeschool at Clean. Clean is a very peaceful blog. I like going there.

• This, from The Fearless Homeschool – The Venerable College Search. I loved this post, mostly because I want to keep my children near me always, and this validates that feeling.

• I turned a men’s sweatshirt from the thrift store into a skirt for Little, just in time for Sunday Night Football (which is happening as I write this. I had to escape. Football is so incredibly tiresome. They should cut it in half, that would be better. There is rather a lot of grumbling and swearing coming from the other room right now).

Broncos-Skirt-1   Broncos-Skirt-2

I know it looks a bit puckery, but I made it in less than an hour and plus also I don’t know what I am doing. It’s much better in person and in fact, I am quite envious of an ankle length sweatshirt skirt, it looks very cozy. She’s only going to have a waist as small as a person’s neck for so long, so I might as well take advantage of it.

• Happy Monday, y’all! Week Two of School for us!


In CategoryNavel Gazing

Jim had to go out of town last week. This was the third trip in six weeks, and I’m over it. This one was some kind of convention or something in San Francisco. He stayed in a luxury hotel right downtown. We talked about the suitcase to take, the amount of cash he needed, and cabs vs. renting a car. It also occurred to me that 30,000 geeks in one location might look like fish in a barrel to the Working Girl. It seemed prudent to warn him against pretty girls talking to him for no reason.

The morning he left, he kept texting me that his flight was delayed. That always happens because United sucks. But when I flipped on the tv to catch some Judge Judy watch the news like a responsible adult, I saw there had been a huge earthquake in the Bay Area.


He apparently settled in to the $700-a-night-hotel life pretty easily, because the next thing I knew, he was complaining his shuttle was 10 minutes late to take him to the convention center.


Later that night, he called and regaled us with tales of the $55 Kobe Beef Steak Sandwich he had for lunch, and the thickness of the Complimentary Egyptian Cotton Bathrobes.

Suddenly my much-anticipated midnight snack of Honey Smacks seemed inadequate.


We survived, just like we always do. We went berry picking, sewed recycled t-shirt skirts, and I continued the kids’ education in Cleaning Stuff While Mom Hollers Instructions From the Couch.

Random Monday

In CategoryRandom Monday


• This is interesting – I will not teach my kids about safe sex. Many things to think about there.

• I think I might be borderline Highly Sensitive. Huh.


Giraffe Coffee

• Happy Labor Day, y’all! School starts tomorrow! To that end I just ordered some stuff. Because I am on top of the situation like that.