Archive for August, 2011


first day of school, 2011

   Posted by: liz    in family, family fun, homeschooling

i wish i could bottle the excitement and enthusiasm of our first days back to school. we would all need a good dose of today’s optimism come february. and then again at the end of march.

our first full days back to school are so exciting…a new schedule, new workbooks, new stories, new pencils. even the boys get giddy over it all!

we’re kicking off school Charlotte Mason style by taking advantage of the weather and Nature Studying until it’s too cold to be outside for longer than 10 minutes.

the idea of a nature study with three young boys has sent me running in the other direction for the past few years. but i think they’re now of the age where i will be able to handle it, we can actually get something learned while we’re outside, and Adam practically begs to bring all of nature indoors any way. i think he and i will have the most fun in this endeavor.

today’s nature/science study was met with much excitement. these boys adore anything that doesn’t require sitting at the kitchen table with a pencil. although they were excited to come back into the house and record all the things they “discovered” outside in their BRAND NEW nature journals. i know i need to keep up on this to continue to make it more interesting than just “what do you see? what do you hear?” i love some of the ideas i’m getting from other charlotte mason style bloggers. i’ll share them in the coming weeks.

the walnut tree compound leaves are always the first to change color. this is a big sign that summer is ending.

Adam’s Curriculum for 2010-2011: I’m going to let Adam do most of his topics choosing since he is FULL of questions lately, and this is the age when a child will learn so much because of their desire to learn the craziest, funnest things is FULL. i love teaching this age because i can sens their love of learning is still fresh and big. for instance, Adam’s current desire for school this year is to learn the following: “I want to learn about how a whale spits out that water on their head!” and  “I want to learn about how a seed turns into a big leafy plant.” and (my favorite) “I want to learn how to read without doing the talking thing…” which is reading silently (like he sees me doing with my books). i remember Rowan asking me once why he can’t hear me sounding out the words when i’m reading my books.

He’s beginning a spelling program with his brothers (Spelling Workout, Level A), and he joins us for our Bible class (“Telling God’s Story” by Peter Enns). He’s also continuing his math lessons (Right Start Mathematics) that we started last spring. The boys love math. So opposite of their mama!

Rowan and Sawyer’s Curriculum for 2011-2012…is changed up a bit this year. We’re still doing their levels in math (Level B for Sawyer and Level C for Rowan). After this morning’s first review lesson, I’m shocked with HOW MUCH THEY REMEMBER. we haven’t done one math exercise this summer. i can’t believe that we’ll be right back in their lessons by the end of the week without nearly as much review as i thought. i credit the curriculum in this. they are learning math in such a way that they understand how numbers work. there is no such thing as memorization. rowan remembers what 5×3 means not because he memorized a flash card that gives the answer, but that when he enters 5 beads 3 times on his abacus, he always gets 15.

We’ve ditched Spell to Write and Read this year with these two. I’ll introduce the phonograms to Adam this year as he conquers learning to read, but I’m DONE with it for Rowan and Sawyer. There was much rejoicing this morning when I pulled out their new Spelling curriculum (Spelling Workout, Level A and B). They loved it. Who knew they were WORKSHEET types?

I also started their writing program. They both began Writing with Ease Year One, and I can tell Rowan will fly through the lessons, and Sawyer will take just a bit longer. But I’m glad they’re both doing a writing as well as grammar program from the same author, at the same level. I love these gentle, classically-based programs for writing and grammar (my favorite subjects!). They laughed at my absolute giddiness upon introducing them to their new writing worksheets.

All three started their piano lessons today. Kenny takes his lunch break and teaches each of them. Adam’s back on track this year, and he promises to practice. He told Kenny he wants to play the “hard songs my brudders play.”  I admit, it’s nice to have the piano in the background again.

I wasn’t nearly as organized this year as I have been the past three years. My bookshelves are a mess, our school supplies aren’t organized, and I only have partial lessons plans in my planner. But today went so smoothly. I started the day with a run, came back and made the boys their favorite muffins, and we eventually started with Bible around 9:00. no schedules, no time limits, no strict rules.

just simple, organic learning.

i love homeschooling.


rode hard, put away wet

   Posted by: liz    in health, running

I ran my first official “race” yesterday. My shoes were so much prettier before yesterday’s obstacle course the race coordinator’s called a “trail run.”

I had great support from my husband (who placed in his age group!), and great stamina support from my running buddy, Courtney, who didn’t leave me behind (and she could have, several times!).

The race was a 4.1 trail run – completely different than what I was training to do. I was running on a track – no roots, no rocky bits, no stream crossings, or 400-foot-climbs. I barely ran. I started out running – a quick hill climb (which I really should have walked, but I thought it would have looked really silly to walk at the start line), and kept running until the golf cart trail turned into a narrow path in the thick woods.

This race kicked my butt.

And I can’t wait to do another one.

But I’ll leave trail races for the trail runners. I’m excited to actually try to RUN a race on a road. This trail was an obstacle course.

My goal is to do at least two more 5K’s before the weather turns. I have my eye set on the Great Race in downtown Pittsburgh (registering this week!), and possibly a Thanksgiving Day run here in Butler (the Turkey Trot!).

Lessons Learned:

  • I get frustrated with myself very quickly. Even though I physically crossed the finish line, my head and heart gave up about halfway through. I need to work on this.
  • I can’t compare myself with the other runners. I don’t know their stories, their histories, their stamina. I am not them.
  • I hate running in the afternoon. I’m a first-thing-in-the-morning kind of runner.
  • I need to keep training.
  • The boys meeting me at the finish line was priceless. I fought back the tears. But that could have been tears of joy for having finished!
  • It doesn’t matter what is offered to runners at the end of the race (yesterday there was a fully catered pasta and beer dinner – I was so looking forward to it!)…all I want is water. And more water. I skipped the free beer and pasta because I just wanted to go home. And drink water.

starting school…

   Posted by: liz    in family fun, seasons, Uncategorized

…but not for two weeks yet!

i’m so glad that we’re still in full summer mode here because i would be completely distracted if i had to “do school” right now. i’m considering a very organic, easy-going start to school in a few weeks’ time, when i can finally put summer behind me and “get excited” about falling temperatures, feeling stuck inside, and non-grilled food for 6 months.

we are nearly ready with all of our curriculum, but actual planning has fallen by the wayside as our busy summer has just started to slow down.

the next two weeks we will squeeze out the very last bit of summer, practice going to bed early and getting up early (ha!), and i will finally plan out the first few weeks of lessons. then we start our weekly co-op again, and we’ll be back in the swing of things. secretly, i am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things…but overall, i still have an attitude of “let this summer go on forever!”

i’ll leave you with a few of our favorite summer things from the summer of 2011!

4th of July Sunset…

Spending our days poolside!

…or lakeside

on this day, it was even too hot to be in a 92-degree pool!

a summer roadtrip splurge!

darkening skies from a summer evening thunderstorm.

our new backyard swimming hole…this photo has inspired a swim-up bar in the deck plans!


still a blogger!

   Posted by: liz    in family fun, seasons

i swear…i really am still a blogger!

…it’s just that summer keeps us busy and less contemplative. okay, so i’m still contemplative, but i’m doing blog posts in my head, and not on my laptop while the temperatures soar well above 80 (heaven!)…

i hope you are having a great summer like we are: endless days of swimming, sunning, reading, playing, swimming, playing, friending, swimming, sleeping-in, swimming, playing, traveling, swimming, grilling…and…SWIMMING!  we’re enjoying time with great friends, i’m reading some great books, and i’m enjoying pushing the envelope of my “comfort zone” (more on that in another blog post).

i promise to be back regularly once september rolls on in. until then, i’ll think about how to update the blog on how I, a 38-year-old woman, think summers are getting better and better as i age. how can one not be perfectly happy in the season of sunshine, smiles, and SWIMMING?

so much to share….