Monday, August 18, 2014

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Last school year was so hard.
I began the year knowing I had MCTD/Lupus and taking meds that were making me feel somewhat better... just well enough that I thought I was ok. Truthfully, I was in denial about how NOT OK I really was. Feeling empowered by a new-found modicum of strength and energy, I rushed headlong into the year, ready to take on a full, taxing schedule.
Then I got some bad news... or rather MORE bad news.
In November, my lab work came back questionable. It looked like I was developing kidney disease, and my rheumatologist prescribed a weekly shot of a chemotherapy drug to slow my immune system so that it would not destroy my vital organs. Even though I was feeling better, my inflammation levels were off the charts and stronger measures were needed.
Long story short, chemo + homeschool + mothering + part-time work made for an interesting year. We had to stop, reevaluate, and make many changes to the plans we had just begun to set in motion. (You can read more about my condition at my Lupus blog, I'm a Little Lupie.) And blogging, other than the occasional post at Lupie to keep those praying for me informed, was the first of my many activities to be cut.
As a result, this blog is nearly dead. My stats show some regular traffic and pins that get bounced around Pinterest and certain posts that pull in a decent number of readers per week. However, only a handful of you are still truly hanging around here, reading my new stuff (what little there is).
I'm fine with that, however, because despite the poor health of the blog, I am alive and well... doing so much better than I was one year ago. Although I doubt reviving this blog will be part of this year's agenda, I would like at least to share a little glimpse of the good parts of last year while sharing our plans for this year.
Let's look back at what I just didn't have time or energy to write last year while looking forward to what I hope this year will include...
But, as always (and perhaps with greater understanding), these plans assume "Lord willing."

10th Grade

Bible/Christian Living

  1. Each year our family reads through the Bible using the 52-week reading plan. We like that each day of the week is dedicated to a different genre (e.g. Sundays = Gospels, Wed = poetry). It helps break up the more difficult or (don't hate me) less interesting portions, and we stay on track most successfully with this approach.
  2. Each boy has a yearly reading list. Here is Ben's:
    • Knowing God, Packer
    • Desiring God, Piper
    • Do Hard Things, Harris
    • Start Here, Harris
    • The Holiness of God, Sproul
    • Total Truth, Pearcy
    • Gospel, JD Greer
    • The Christian View of Man, Machen
    • Discovering God's Will, Ferguson
    • The Pursuit of God, Tozer
    • The Crucial Questions Series, Sproul
    • Developing a Healthy Prayer Life, Beeke
    • Holiness, Ryle
    • Idolatry, Ryle
    • Don't Waste Your Life, Piper
    • Radical, Platt
    • Taking God at His Word, DeYoung
    • 7 Men, Metaxas
    • The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer
You can find links to most of those titles in my bookshelf located in the right sidebar.
Here is our olive plant in front of my painting,
Olive Plants. Oh yeah, he just got braces!

English/Language Arts

  1. He will complete a portion of this credit at co-op in a class I will teach. During the first semester, he will review essay writing using The Elegant Essay (IEW). I will also fold in some of their materials on creative writing. During the 2nd semester, I will teach Writing Research Papers (IEW). He will also review grammar with Analytical Grammar and editing assignments that I create.
  2. At home, he will complete World Literature (Dr. Stobaugh, For Such a Time as This).
  3. For Vocabulary, I will teach Latin and Gk roots and English derivatives at co-op. He will study SAT prep words at home (although we still don't know exactly what we're going to do in this area because the SAT changes will affect him).

Ben and Brian are not in this picture; however,
it shows how much fun we have at co-op!


We are officially a Teaching Textbooks family. Last year I really struggled to keep up with math after I started chemo. I had to ditch the old math program because I did not have the spoons or available brain cells to tutor Algebra 2. TT required absolutely nothing from me. He completely self-managed his math studies for the 1st time ever and maintained a 99 average. I'm sold! This year he will complete TT Geometry.

We've started visiting colleges!

He will take Chemistry at co-op with his papaw as the teacher. Papaw likes to teach from BJU... works for me!

Ben won the science fair last year (high school division)
for his project "Tweet Side Story."
He observed and kept records of bird populations
 in our county.

Social Studies
  1. He will complete the 2nd half of a world history credit by completing the 2nd half of Dr. Stobaugh's World History course. This curriculum is intended for 1 year; however, I divided it into 2 years because last year I had him try out the Ron Paul Curriculum and Dr. Grant's online course. (Antiquity OVERLOAD!) Neither of those options worked as well for us as Dr. Stobaugh's course.
  2. He will also complete a half credit of World Geography using Mapping the World by Heart.

They enjoyed the coastal region of Georgia
during the YBC in April.

Foreign Language
  1. He starts Spanish IV this year! Dad is the teacher, and he will use Dos Mundos (his college text) and DGP Spanish.
  2. Ben wants to branch out and start Korean, too. We have a large Korean community in our town due to one of the industries located here. He will take lessons from a native speaker and practice with all our Korean friends. (We hope. I'm still looking for a teacher. If anyone local can help connect us with a teacher, please contact me!)

We enjoyed birding with Dad last year,
as well as speaking Spanish.

  1. Health- We debated whether or not to include this and then wrestled with what curriculum to use. We decided it was a necessary, easy credit and chose the curriculum from Glencoe. It is not Christian but it is not contradictory to what we are already teaching him through relational, day-to-day, Biblical teaching and parenting.
  2. P.E.- Karate! He loves his karate lessons and sensei. We are so blessed to have a great studio in town led by a Christian, homeschooling family.
  3. Keyboarding- Mavis Beacon. He's been working on it all summer, and his speed and accuracy are improving.
  4. Ballroom dancing- We have wonderful dance instructors in our area who include our teens in classes they teach for adult couples. They offer the most reasonably priced lessons I've ever encountered, and the instructors are Christians who have created a fabulous learning and social environment, including a monthly formal dance. Ben has found he is passionate about ballroom (or at least getting to go to a monthly party, lol). Michael and I love that he is learning this graceful, refined art and that it provides numerous appropriate and safe social opportunities. Win-win!
Ben is dancing with a friend, Laura, at our
homeschool support group's formal dance held in April.
Here, he is dancing with one of my flute students (and favorite gals)!
After his blue belt testing
He is at 6th green now!

8th Grade

Bible/Christian Living
Brian will follow the same 52-week Bible reading plan as Ben. Here is his additional reading list:
  1. Confessing Christ, Great Commission Publications
  2. Answers Books 1-4, Ham
  3. The Critical Questions Series, Sproul
  4. Do Hard Things, Harris
  5. Desiring God, Piper
  6. The Holiness of God, Sproul
  7. Thoughts for Young Men, Ryle
  8. Don't Check Your Brains at the Door, McDowell
  9. Calvin for Teens: Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin, edited and paraphrased by Caroline Weerstra
  10. Reformation Heroes, Klyen/Beeke
Enjoying the Creation while on Spring Break

English/Languge Arts
  1. Brian will also complete his ELA credits through co-op with me as his instructor. He will complete Following Narnia (IEW) and Analytical Grammar, Season 2.
  2. At home, he will read the following books and write a book report after completing each:
    1. Loamhedge, Jacques
    2. Rakkety Tamm, Jacques
    3. High Rhulain, Jacques
    4. Eulalia!, Jacques
    5. Doomwyte, Jacques
    6. The Sable Queen, Jacques
    7. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Twain
    8. Sherlock Holmes (exact title, TBD), Doyle
    9. Call of the Wild, London
    10. Treasure Island, Stevenson
    11. The Two Towers, Tolkien
    12. Return of the King, Tokien
    13. Rip Van Winkle and Sleepy Hollow, Irving
    14. Around the World in 80 Days, Verne
    15. The Scarlet Pimpernel, Orczy
    16. The Jungle Book, Kipling
We ended the co-op year in May with a reading of
Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Brian read the part of Tom Snout
who plays the wall in the play within the play.

Due to Ben's success with Teaching Textbooks, Brian will complete their Algebra I course.

Counting Birds with Dad and Ben

Brian will complete Physical Science at co-op with Papaw as his teacher. Yay, Papaw!

Brian also won the science fair (middle school division)!
He's rocking his new navy blue (on the front)
and bright yellow (on the side and back) glasses.

Social Studies
  1. I am starting him on the 2nd year of Dr. Stobaugh's history for Jr. High. He has not completed the 1st year, but the 2nd year starts at the approximate time period that the curriculum we used last year left off. I want to get him started on this great curriculum now so that he will be ready for the high school level next year.
  2. He will also complete Mapping the World by Heart. We looked into starting CC two years ago but there were too many aspects of the program that would not have met our needs. One part that I really liked was that the Challenge A has the students learn to draw the current world map. This curriculum teaches geography through a similar method.

Working (and then destroying) the Global Puzzle
over Summer Break

Foreign Language
He will complete Spanish I, taught by his dad from Avancemos 1. This class and Algebra I will give him two high school credits by the close of the school year!

Taking a break from Spanish at co-op
to have fun at a Christmas party.

  1. Karate: He LOVES karate and takes lessons at the same studio as Ben.
  2. Art: This will not be an official co-op class; however, there is a teacher who has been teaching art courses at the church where our co-op will meet this year. She has lined up her teaching schedule to complement our co-op schedule, so he will take art right before his co-op classes begin. I LOVE when things like that happen! It saves soooooo many spoons!!
  3. Keyboarding: He will also keep working on those skills using Mavis Beacon.
  4. Programming: He started the programming courses available at Khan Academy over the summer and is enthralled. We're going to keep that going.
With his birding team, getting ready for YBC 2014
Acting Silly!

Breaking Boards at Karate

So, there you have it!

As I am about to press "publish," I wonder what surprises are in store for this year. Plenty, I'm sure.

However, God will direct my steps and provide the grace to do (or not to do), and for Him, there are never surprises.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!
 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
    that God should repay them?”
 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
    To him be the glory forever!
Roman 11: 33-36

May God bless you as you start your new school year!

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