Not Back to School Day!

Of course we’ve been doing school since the second (after a whopping one week break), but today is our NOT back to school day. It is our tradition to take off from school the local first day of school each year. For our county, that day is today. So instead of doing school, we’re taking the day off to celebrate. It’s just one of those perks of homeschooling. A day off whenever we want!

Ani’s Eyewitness Account

Ani completed her first Calvert 7 composition (lesson 10) today. She had to write an eyewitness account in the form of a letter to a person who wasn’t there. She was supposed to use lots of descriptive language so the person could know exactly what her chosen event was like. Ani chose to write her composition addressed to her paternal grandmother and about the hail storm we had a few months ago. Here is what she wrote (she e-mailed it to her Nan). I am very pleased with the result, especially knowing that this time last year she couldn’t write a coherent sentence let alone a paragraph or entire composition.

August 23, 2010
Dear Nan,

On the afternoon of May 14, 2010, the skies were perfectly clear and the birds were chirping happily. Cameron and I were outside working hard in the garden. It was so hot we were sweating a ton. It started to lightly rain. It felt really good because it had been so hot all day. After a little while we were called in for dinner.

Half way through dinner we heard this really loud strange banging coming from outside. It was so loud that it hurt our ears. It sounded a hundred times louder than a hammer banging on a nail. Wil got up from the table to look outside, followed by me. We looked outside and said, “Wow!” and of course all the rest of the family had to go and look outside, too.

It was hailing so hard that it dented the cars outside. The hail was tiny and wasn’t too bad. The hail was bouncing off the ground like bouncy balls on steroids. My family and I went out onto the porch and stood in the doorway so that the hail was about five inches in front of our faces. We were really crazy because we were right next to the storm.

We went and got the cameras and started to take as many pictures as we possibly could. We couldn’t look away from the hail that was falling really really hard now. Leaves and branches were falling down everywhere. All of a sudden the hail started to get bigger and bigger until it was about the size of golf balls. Some were even the size of baseballs!

It was so dark we couldn’t see the trees across the field. It had also gotten really really windy. The leaves were ripping apart and turning upside down on the branches. Wil was being pretty reckless and went out into the hail and was almost blown over.

Fritz wouldn’t come out onto the porch with the rest of us. Instead, he was on the couch inside clutching his Wii remotes and saying, “I so scared! I so scared!” He was shaking as much as the leaves outside and had turned almost as pale as the hail.

After the wild storm stopped and the wind died down we couldn’t see the garden because it was so foggy. It looked like early morning when the clouds are close to the ground. Mommie let us go out after it had stopped hailing completely.

We walked around and there was hail and standing water everywhere. The garden was flooded. There were gigantic puddles all around it. Wil and I wanted to go and jump in the puddles but they were so full of ice it would have hurt our bare feet and frozen them solid.

The hail was round and pure white. We kept some in the freezer in a baggie to show my uncle and aunt. We also cut one in half and saw it had many, many layers kind of like an onion. While we were outside, Wil and I kept slipping and sliding on the hail. It looked like there was an inch or so of frost on the ground.

We were really lucky that none of our windows were broken and our cars weren’t too badly damaged. The wild storm was so cool! I don’t want it to happen again, though.

Your granddaughter,

Why Pre-K?

In addition to Why Calvert?, I’ve been asked why I decided to get pre-kindergarten for Fritz. I debated getting him kindergarten instead. He’s 4, but he could have done it no problem and already knows much of what is covered in pre-k. But in the end I decided that pre-k would be best for him.

There are a few reasons for that decision. First, this is his first introduction to school that is really organized and has lesson plans and is more than just playing. I wanted it to be fun (and Calvert Pre-K has definitely fit that bill!). Second, just because he CAN do a higher level right now, it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s a good idea. Calvert gets difficult pretty quick as you move through the grade levels. Third, there’s plenty of time for really organized and academic schooling so giving him a year or so of laid back school seemed like a good idea. And, fourth, I figured there would be things in the pre-k curriculum I never would’ve thought about addressing.

I am very glad we decided to go with pre-k. He has enjoyed it very much so far (about 1/4 through it). I was right that there have been things that have been good to cover that I otherwise would not have thought about. It’s been a perfect fit.

Now, we are going through the pre-k course faster than written. We double up on lessons (which is about an hour a day total). At this rate we will finish with it in November or December (started in July). Our plan is to move on to kindergarten in January. If Fritz continues to be able, we will double up on those lessons as well and he’ll enter first grade in the fall, a year earlier than if he was to attend public school.

Doing Calvert Pre-K first has been a perfect fit for Fritz. I am very glad we decided to start with that instead of going right into kindergarten.

Cameron’s Whiteboard

Calvert 2 has daily activities that use phonics letter cards. Sonlight language arts 1 also used letter cards and Cameron hated using them and I hated keeping track of them and getting the right ones out each time. Because of that experience, I knew that I didn’t want to use letter cards again. That left me trying to figure out what to use instead.


I ended up getting a small, cheap dry erase board at Staples. Cameron’s whiteboard has worked wonderfully and has turned out to be extra useful.The lessons also often direct me to write words and sentences on paper. Instead of using paper which will almost immediately be thrown away, I write on the whiteboard.



For activities where Cameron would have needed to assemble the letter cards into words, I have him just write the words on the whiteboard. It works great and has been the perfect addition to our homeschooling materials!


Fritz’s Prize

Fritz used a pacifier from the time he was a newborn until he voluntarily gave it up at 9 months. He totally refused it. Then at 23 months his little brother was born and Fritz started stealing the pacifier and two years later he was 4 years old and still using a pacifier in the car and at night. We figured we’d take the pacifier either when Adrian quit using one or when Fritz turned 5, whichever came first.

But then Adrian lost his pacifier at Six Flags a couple weeks ago. That meant we were down to three. They seem to grow legs easily and most of the 3,942 we’ve bought over the last few years had disappeared. We found one, but the other two were nowhere to be found.

So we told Fritz that basically he was out of pacifier luck. It was time to stop using the pacifier (amusingly, the next day I discovered one of the missing pacifiers right on the shelf where we keep them). He was okay with not having one for about 3.6 seconds. I told him he could have a big boy sticker in the morning if he slept without a pacifier (hey, it works for staying in his own bed all night). Nope.

Then Jamie had a brilliant idea.

If there’s one person Fritz loves more than anything else, it’s Mario. He loves to play Super Mario Brothers (we have the first and third of the originals on WiiWare and he’s surprisingly good at playing). And he’s been wanting Super Mario Brothers Wii for quite some time. We’ve rented it with free rental coupons from Blockbuster a few times and Fritz just loves that game.

And so Jamie told him if he went a few days without using a pacifier at all he could have Super Mario Brothers Wii.

It worked! Fritz immediately grinned and said “Good night!” and turned over and went to sleep without a pacifier for the first time in over two years. The next day he informed my parents that he no longer needs a pacifier because he’s a big boy and Adrian still uses a pacifier because he is a little boy. He hasn’t touched a pacifier to his mouth since.

I ordered the game from Amazon and it arrived yesterday.

The look on his face when he saw what was in the box was priceless.


He’s been having fun playing it quite a bit since it arrived.

Back to School!

Last week we went back to school. Ani doing Calvert 7th grade and Cameron doing Calvert 2nd grade. It was a good week. It looks like Calvert is just what we need and I picked the perfect levels for the kids even though they are not what either of them would be in regular school. We’ve had a great start to the new year!

Ani got up and got dressed really nicely for the first day of school.

Ani had a science experiment. We’ve done it before. It’s the one where you put raisins in a carbonated drink and watch them float up and down on the gas bubbles. Except it didn’t work. She tried it with cold Ginger Ale, warm Ginger Ale, and seltzer water. The difference between this time and the previous time we did it is I got golden raisins this time instead of black ones. There were a couple stray black ones in the box and those did float up. So that was a very surprising result. Comparing the golden raisins to the black ones, the reason seemed pretty clear. The golden ones were at least twice the size of the black ones. The bubbles just weren’t strong enough to lift them up.

Ani’s in heaven with all her textbooks.

Cameron really likes using his whiteboard. Instead of using letter cards to put together words like the curriculum says to, he writes them on his little whiteboard.

Sometimes Ani actually wears her glasses like she’s supposed to when she’s reading. Adrian thinks it’s great fun to sit on her when she’s on the floor.

Cameron did a choral retelling of a story he read this week, Dragon Gets By. He was supposed to write a script and memorize it and then perform it, but Cameron has a lot of trouble memorizing. Instead, we went over the summary of the story he had written earlier in the week and talked about what he would do for his performance. And then he just did it. He retold the story extremely well, particularly considering he was just going from memory.