Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My Birthday

My birthday was different! We had company the day before, so I was pretty tired. I spent much of the day relaxing, enjoying phone calls with birthday wishes, and catching up on my to-do list. We'd managed to get some flies, and Greg was going after them with a vengeance. At some point, he decided to use a towel instead of a fly swatter. I HAVE NO IDEA WHY.... He thought it was more effective, but it seemed to me he was missing a lot and coming close to breaking something. I was in the kitchen preparing food, when I saw a fly on the kitchen window. I hollered, “I’m going to get this one myself.” and went to fetch the swatter. While I was gone, he walked in and used the towel and BROKE OUR WINDOW!!! I WAS SO UPSET, because I was already concerned something would get broken. ON MY BIRTHDAY. Of course, he was very apologetic, told me it was stupid and he’d never do that again, and cleaned up all the glass. It was the inner pane. Outer pane is still intact. 
Later, Kylen discovered a chunk of plastic on the sofa way over on the other side of the dining room. We realized it broke off the rod from the KITCHEN BLINDS. Yes, even the blinds were damaged! Seriously?? What kind of force did he use?? That’s when Greg made the connection. He tipped the plastic rod next to the window, and the end lined up with the origin of the break. The towel must have caught the rod and slammed it against the window. I still won’t let him use a towel again though!
After recovering from the shock and annoyance, we ended the day on a good note. I opened gifts and cards from my boys, and we went out for Mexican and saw Inside Out again per my request. When we pulled into the driveway around midnight (yes, we're late night folks!), we noticed mylars on the front porch. My uncle’s family had left them with a card. That was a nice surprise!! One of my birthday cards said, “Unexpected. Unbelievable. Unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Have that kind of birthday.” It certainly was that!
The following day I discovered tiny presents hidden around the kitchen. They were various flavors of fudge. So sweet! My boys don't usually get that creative. And we've already gotten to play the board game they got me: Pandemic. It was a memorable couple of days!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Priest Lake

We've gone camping with my uncle's family at Priest Lake for a couple of years.  This year, it worked out better for us to just go up for a day.  It's 2 1/2 hours both ways, but we managed to be there for around 7 hours.  My boys love the lake, so they spent most of their time in the water.  They jumped off the dock, floated on inflatables, and played trac-ball. 

My aunt prepared a wonderful dinner of quesadillas and soup.  She mixed up a filling of canned chicken, cheese, and black beans, and scooped it onto a flour tortilla.  Placed a second tortilla on top, and pan fried both sides in butter.  We weren't allowed to make a fire due to the burn ban, and it got pretty chilly after the sun went down.  The soup was from a dry mix, but after adding cheese, it was pretty good and very welcome for helping to help curb the chill.  My uncle made his 4-ingredient ice cream, and we had s'mores over a propane burner.  We contributed sliced strawberries and bananas for a twist on the traditional combo, something I'd been wanting to try ever since seeing the idea online.  I liked the strawberries better - tasted like a chocolate covered strawberry.  You can also skip the chocolate and just do the graham cracker, marshmallow and fruit.

Triple Play

We've had a couple of fun outings to Triple Play with friends this month.  Activities included arcade games, bowling, the ropes course, laser tag, go karts, and miniature golf.  :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Kylen's 1st Year of High School Evaluation

Now that Kylen has completed most of his work for 9th grade, I'd like to do a "then and now" eval.  I'm pasting the post from the beginning of the school year below and giving my current thoughts for each portion in blue.  Here we go . . .

And so . . . Kylen has started high school!  I'm finding this hard to absorb even with having spent quite a bit of time over the last few years researching how to homeschool at this level.  I think my biggest concern right now is how to get it all in!  We started last Tuesday and have yet to complete a full day's work.  I'm hoping we've been UNUSUALly busy and that next week will bring better success.

I've gotten used to having a high schooler in the house, and I'm definitely feeling more relaxed about it.  This year was pretty rough though.  Long school days and big changes like Kylen learning to drive.  I talked to someone who said that 9th grade is typically the heaviest year, so that gives me some measure of comfort.  At least I know we have driver's ed. out of the way!!

 I've learned that 2-3 elective credits per year is typical, although Greg thinks that's excessive.  Each elective credit is about 4 hours each week or 2 hours per week for a half credit.  Kylen's electives are all half credit classes.  His subjects are as follows:

I ended up adding an elective in the spring, and that's one bonus of homeschooling.  You can adjust according to what happens during the year.  He did not earn a half credit of guitar, but he is currently taking cello and music appreciation.  I decided to combine the three under the title "Music Appreciation" and make it a full credit.  He'll actually be spending more time on the class than needed for a credit but probably not enough to make it 1 1/2, so I'll just stick with calling it 1 credit.

Math ~ Geometry ~ 1 credit
We're using A Beka for math again, which we really don't care for at the higher levels.  I probably should have switched to something else by now . . .

Yep!  I definitely should have switched.  I wouldn't recommend A Beka math beyond 5th or 6th grade.  Before then, it's great for laying down a strong foundation.  After that . . . it's a nightmare. Kylen's last several years have been a horrible struggle in this subject.  Don't ask me what took so long!  It prepared him well, but it was WAY too hard.  Many of the homework problems were so over-the-top that he dealt with constant frustration and feelings of inadequacy.  Yet, the exams were reasonable.  I don't understand the logic in putting kids through that kind of torture when the exams clearly show they don't expect such a high level of aptitude.

Honors English I ~ Introduction to Literature ~ 1 credit
This curriculum has the student read classics and write papers about them.  It is new to us.  I am considering it an honors course, because he will be doing extra reading and writing stories of his own.

Kylen enjoyed reading lots of classics.  What I do not like about this curriculum is that it has almost no support for the teacher.  If the student is asked to discuss themes or symbolism, I would like to have an answer key with a short summary of that info.  Otherwise, how can I evaluate his papers without reading the novel myself?  And I definitely didn't have time to read them.  So I had to do a fair amount of research just so I could evaluate his papers.  We will use this curriculum again for 10th grade but much more loosely.

Science ~ Physical Science ~ 1 credit
Our first time trying A Beka for science.  I expect it to be easier than Apologia.  Kylen has never liked this subject.

Another disappointment.  Kylen struggled in this subject as well.  I think I can safely say we are done with A Beka for good.  Again, they are wonderful in grade school, but I just can't recommend them higher up.

History ~ U.S. History ~ 1 credit
TONS of reading!!  Kylen is reading BJU's United States History for his textbook, and I'll be doing lots of historical read alouds, as usual.  I am nearly finished with our first one, Miracles and Massacres by Glenn Beck.

I am happy with how this subject went.  Kylen loved the BJU textbook, and there were some great read alouds.  I read 22 novels.  The list was formed by combining books from Sonlight's American History and Notgrass's Exploring America's literature list.  I narrowed the list down by going over reviews on Amazon.  Then, organized titles by time period.  Our favorites were The Yanks are Coming by Albert Marrin, My Heart Lies South by Elizabeth Trevino (recommend skipping the chapter about praying to saints though), and A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck.  I also had Kylen watch season 1 and 2 of How the States Got Their Shapes on Netflix.  It's a fun series and clean for the most part other than an occasional bad word or inappropriate reference.

Social Studies ~ World Geography ~ 1/2 credit
This is a mishmash of my own making.  I plan to draw from lots of sources and hope to make it a light, fun subject.  We're currently reading from Where On Earth, Flags of the World, and a student atlas.  Will probably watch videos occasionally and play internet geography games.  Also, incorporating current events from WorldTeen magazine.

This subject was good.  The books worked fine, and I had him play most of the geography games in a single sitting for his final.  He had to score a minimum of 95% to pass.  He had to play the games quite a bit to get there.  Here's the site:

Foreign Language ~ French ~ 1/2 credit
An independent subject for Kylen, since he is good at learning languages and I am not!  We're using Living Language.

French was OK, but we will try something different next year.

Bible ~ 1 credit
Church on Sundays, evening Bible reading and discussion, youth group, personal Bible reading, religious books

I added this subject later when it occurred to me that even though Bible isn't a formal subject I planned, Kylen is doing more than enough for a "Bible" class.  It's a huge part of his life!  Why not get credit for it?!

Music ~ Piano ~ 1/2 credit
Half hour lesson each week with the same instructor as in the past, plus minimum half hour practice each day.

This was fine.  We're not sure if he is going to take piano lessons again.  We'll see!

PE ~ 1/2 credit
As always, this will include any physical activity.  Kylen is presently taking volleyball at co-op for 8 weeks, so that will be part of it.  Basketball is a fairly regular activity.  Bike rides, walks, swimming, tennis, etc.

A piece of cake, even with Kylen not being the athletic type.  He played basketball a LOT and did plenty of other physical activities to have more than enough hours for a solid half credit of PE.

Guitar ~ 1/2 credit???
Kylen is currently taking guitar at co-op, but whether we can count it as a half credit will depend on whether he stays in the class the whole year.  He has an hour class each week plus 15 minute practice each day.

He didn't stay in the class all year.  He switched to something else in the spring.  As stated above, I changed it to a credit of music appreciation with guitar, cello, and an actual music appreciation curriculum.  We are going through this one over the summer:

Quick Summary
I think this is a fairly normal 9th grade schedule for a student planning to attend college.  Co-op is a major outside activity, and it's difficult to do any core subjects that day, so we are essentially down to 4 days a week for school.  I think that's one of the reasons I'm finding it so challenging to get everything in.  But he loves co-op.  It's his main outlet for seeing friends, so we're pretty committed to making it work.  He may need to do school on Saturdays or in the evenings.  One of the perks to homeschooling is having your evenings free, since your school time is so much more productive during the day.  So far, we've always managed to avoid "homework" at night, but we may need to consider that as an option.

I think the 4 days a week schedule definitely made for a hard year, but I don't regret participation in a co-op.  It has been an invaluable part of our homeschool journey.  He did indeed need to do schoolwork occasionally in the evenings and on weekends, but not very often.

 I'm also keeping community service in mind.  He's still volunteering at the library an hour each week and will start volunteering with a homeless shelter soon.  More on that to come!  One area I'd really like to explore is contests.  Writing is his greatest strength, and he's only entered one major contest.  I think it would be a good experience, not to mention the potential for monetary prizes.

Volunteering at the library and UGM did not pan out to very many hours.  This is an area he will need to do more of after he is able to drive.  It's hard to volunteer without transportation!  I also need to look into contests.  It was a difficult year due to math, science, and a heavy schedule.  He didn't have much time left for extras like contests.  Hopefully that will change.

Lee Binz has been a great source of information for creating high school transcripts.  I'm keeping detailed records of everything to assist in writing class descriptions, and I'm starting a reading list.  Completed schoolwork will be placed in a plastic tub in case colleges request work samples.  Overall, I feel pretty confident that this is doable, and I have absolutely no doubt it is God's will that we homeschool through high school.

9th grade has been a wonderful year for reading lists, and I have most of his class descriptions done.  Homeschooling high school is definitely doable!!  Soon I'll do a post about subjects and currick planned for 10th grade.  :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Day Trip to Missoula

We took a lovely day trip to Missoula on Sunday to attend a wedding reception.  It is one of my favorite drives, three hours each way.  The scenery is fabulous!  We enjoyed seeing many of our Montana relatives.  Afterwards, we ate dinner at an Asian restaurant and checked out a couple spots by the river.  I've been wanting to do that each time we go, so I'm glad we finally did!

Kylen drove 3 1/2 of the six hours . . . at highway speeds . . . on curvy roads through mountains and next to water and steep drop-offs . . . My stressing out in the back was all for nought - he did really well.

The happy couple.  :)

My sister's boys.  It was a pleasant surprise running into them.  I love these two!

We found this restaurant called Face Club on tripadvisor.  The food was decent, and Greg and Kylen really enjoyed their Thai iced tea with milk.

Loved the yellow-orange napkins.

I had Phad Thai.  It came with sprouts on the side, which complimented the dish really well.

After our server found out we were from out of town, she asked if we'd seen "The Wave."  It's a spot on the river popular with surfers.  We looked, and sure enough, there was a guy on a board.  If you can see the two tiny black spots near center, the dude on left is riding the water.  Someday, when I get a new camera, hopefully it will have a better zoom!

At this spot, the smattering of green plants stood out in a sea of river rock.

Greg and Kylen discussing the heart rock I spotted.  Greg was holding the rock while acting like he was in love with me.  Which he was.  And is.  =)

Looking forward to next time!