History in March

After Spring Break, we decided to change our history a bit and finish out our ancients year using Layers of Learning (just using the history portion). The boys are enjoying it much more and I think they are learning more, too. Cameron and Adrian both learn so much better hands on and Fritz, while he learns any way I throw at him, enjoys the hands on stuff a lot.

In March we did two weeks using Year 1, Unit 4 (Ancient Greece).

We colored the city-states on a map of ancient Greece and identified ones still around today and the ones that had letters written to the church there in the New Testament.

We had a little mini-Olympics. The boys (and Lola) ran a footrace (notice Cameron is barefoot as usual).

And the little boys competed in the long jump.

Adrian told his brothers about bull-leaping in Crete. He had read a book that talked about it a few weeks ago. Then they built a bull out of blankets and pillows and took turns jumping over it. Eventually, Lola claimed the bull as her own and spent quite a bit of the rest of the day hanging out on its back.

We learned about the Greek and Persian War (and also the Peloponnesian War). We colored a map showing the different sides and neutral areas. We looked at the big world map and found the area and what countries they are today.

We acted about some bits of the wars. Cameron decided they surely had tiny war wolves so Lola had to join us. We made a video reenacting Pheidippides’ Marathon.

We learned about Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns.

We watched a Crash Course World History video about Alexander the Great.

The Boss Baby


On Saturday the little guys, Jamie, and I got to go see an advance screening of The Boss Baby. Because there is no guarantee of getting into an advance screening (they overbook the theater), I didn’t tell the boys ahead of time where we were going. I assured them they’d enjoy it and if we didn’t get in, we’d find something else to do.

As we were getting out of the car at the movie theater, Adrian asked if we were going to see Boss Baby. He was so excited when I said we hopefully would be. He has seen the ads and had said more than once he wanted to see it. Luckily, we got in (with some parents volunteering to hold their very little ones on their laps, they were able to squeeze everyone who showed up into the theater).

The movie is very cute. The premise is when babies are made (by BabyCorp), each one is tickled and if they giggle like most of them do, they are sent to a family. If they don’t giggle, they are sent to management. They stay adorable baby-sized adult humans by drinking a special formula. Sometimes they need to go to a family in order to carry out a mission as directed by the big bosses at BabyCorp.

Boss Baby (voiced by Alec Baldwin) joins a family with parents who work for PuppyCo and a seven-year-old brother named Tim. Tim absolutely does not want a baby brother and feels like his parents don’t love him anymore since all their attention is focused on the baby. Eventually Tim and Boss Baby must team up with the end goal of Boss Baby leaving their family forever. Tim just wants to be an only child again while Boss Baby wants a promotion, a corner office, and his picture on the wall at BabyCorp.

The story is told by Tim as an adult (voiced by Tobey Maguire) and while he admits he had a very active imagination as a child, he is telling it just the way he remembers it happened.

There were a lot of children in the theater from toddlers on up to pre-teens and, yet, for the entire nearly 1 hour and 40 minutes, the kids were so quiet. They really paid complete attention to the movie. Everyone laughed a lot. In fact, I think the adults laughed more than the kids. The moral was lovely and the end was perfect. The animation was amazing with Boss Baby’s mannerisms being totally adult, yet totally baby-like at the same time.

I highly recommend seeing The Boss Baby. It’s a great family movie. You won’t be sorry.

Note: It is rated PG for some mild rude humor. Usually, it is funny, but there is one point where Tim and Boss Baby are in a dog-shaped bouncy house and they escape through an interestingly placed air hole and so look like they are being pooped out of the dog. That crossed the line from funny to gross and judging by the reaction of a lot of the people in the theater, I am not the only one who thought that.

Three Quarters Done!

As of Friday, our 2016-17 school year is three quarters complete. Only 9 more weeks to go!

In Science, we finished learning about the organ systems of the human body and learned about evolution, natural selection, fossils, biomes, food webs, and cycles of life on earth. In History, we learned about ancient India, the Persian Empire, Crete, the Myceneans, ancient Greece, and mythology. After spring break, we switched to Layers of Learning for our history curriculum. We did more interesting art projects from The Art Assignment. Of course everyone is still doing taekwondo for PE. Cameron also goes bike riding a bit to build up his endurance.

Cameron completed several lessons of Math-U-See Geometry, but it wasn’t working for him so he switched to Khan Academy. The MUS videos just confuse him so hopefully the Khan videos will work better and also it will find what he is weak in. He wrote some essays. He read (listened to) The History of the Peloponnesian War, The Republic, and Rhetoric, Poetics, and Logic.

Fritz finished Math-U-See Epsilon and move on to Zeta. He has completed through lesson 5. He finished reading the Harry Potter series and also read the Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief series. He has complete the first two Artemis Fowl books. He is almost finished learning how to connect letters in cursive (just y and z left). He has completed a couple more chapters of Latin. He took the National Latin Exam and National Mythology Exam for the first time.

Adrian has almost finished the final lesson of Math-U-See Gamma. He’s now in book 7 of Explode the Code. He is now able to mark his spelling passages on his own and diagram simple sentences with subjects, verbs, adverbs, and direct objects. He read D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths, King Midas: The Golden Touch, Pegasus, Favorite Greek Myths, Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, The Adventures of Spider: West African Folktales, and The Five Chinese Brothers. He’s about halfway through his final book of the year, Traditional Irish Fairy Tales.

English: B
History: A
Geometry: C
Biology: A
Art/PE/Music: Pass

English: A
History: A
Math: A
Biology: A
Art/PE/Music/Latin: Pass

English: A
History: A
Math: A
Biology: A
Art/PE/Music/Latin: Pass

Lesson Planning

I’m making progress on lesson planning finally. I think I’ve got what we’re going to used all picked out, I’ve got the calendar set and the days off picked, and now I’m doing the actual lesson plans. That’s the part, along with pre-reading, that takes forever.

Currently, I’m making the lesson plans for grammar and spelling. We’re going to use Fix It! Grammar (The Nose Tree). All the boys will do it together on the awesome new whiteboard I got. They’ll do the parts of speech labeling and vocabulary and copying and everything as written and then they will use colored dry erase markers to do the letter chunk marking like they have learned to do in Spelling You See over the last couple years.


Also, check out the beautiful new maps I got. They are huge! I splurged and got the laminated kind. Definitely worth it. The paper ones we’ve had on the wall (and use surprisingly frequently) for the last three years were getting pretty grungy so it was definitely time for new ones.

Back At It, Also We Had a Good Spring Break

Fritz, upon discovering today is the first day of spring, wondered just why we had spring break last week before spring started. Good question. Of course, living in south Texas the temperature has been quite spring-like since, well, January.

Last week was fun. Cameron went on Trek. This is a thing Mormon kids do to simulated being pioneers. They wore pioneer clothes (plus tennis shoes because we’re not that crazy). Slept outside. Cooked some of their meals on a fire. Were put in groups called families with a Ma and Pa. Pulled handcarts (and in the case of Cameron’s family, also pulled the chariot of their “sister” in a wheelchair). Got sunburned. Walked 26.6 miles over three days. Sang 99 Cartons of Milk on the Wall. Twice. And then sang 499 Cartons of Milk on the Wall. He absolutely loved it.


Wednesday Ani saw her rheumatologist and got some diagnoses and a treatment plan that is already helping a little bit.

Friday I took the kids to see Beauty and the Beast. We loved it. It was absolutely perfect. We’ll definitely be buying it when it is released on DVD (or, rather, digitally from Amazon because that’s what we do).


It’s been a year since we started redecorating Ani’s room. We’ve still got a few touch-ups left to do, but now we’re ready to move on to Cameron’s and the boys’ rooms. Saturday we went and got paint chips from Home Depot in pink (Cameron), blue (Cameron and Fritz), and yellow (Adrian) to choose from. Cameron and Fritz separately picked the exact same shade of blue.

Spring Break also included lots of reading (I’ve read 13 books so far in March), youtube videos, video game playing, and Cameron working at spring break camp at taekwondo after he returned from Trek.

Today we went back to school and everything went great. Everyone focused and worked hard and we even got all of our all together work done (rarely does that all get done in one day). Ten more weeks of school and then we’re off for the summer!

We Have Some Diagnoses!

We already knew Ani had Celiac Disease and insomnia. She was diagnosed with POTS last month. We finally got a copy of her upright MRI report. It was not good. She does not have Chiari, but she does have a totally jacked up neck. She has mild straightening of the neck, a 2mm subluxation at C4, multiple herniations C4-7, and narrowing of the cerebrospinal fluid space.

Yesterday she saw her rheumatologist. He is a soft-spoken, kind man. He read her MRI report and looked at her and said, “You are in pain.” He sympathized with what she has been through and promised he will help her get well.

So he added two more diagnoses. She has Ehlers-Danlos. It is likely many people in our family – including me – have it mildly. She’s having a lot of pain because of it because her joints are constantly going out of place. Her hips and shoulders are misbehaving the most lately. For that, she is to continue taking Aleve and use wraps, K-T tape, etc. She is also to do isometric exercises to help “teach” her muscles where to stop rather than allowing them to keep going as far as the joints will let them.

She also has fibromyalgia. For that, he prescribed Lyrica and wants her to do some gentle exercising every day. One day she’ll get back to training at taekwondo, but we need to fix her neck first. It makes sense that the Aleve was helping some, but not everything. Her fibro pain isn’t from inflammation so the Aleve was only good for the EDS pain and possibly her neck pain.

He said she really needs to get deeper sleep. We have noticed that when her pain is high she can’t sleep but when she can’t sleep her pain gets worse. It’s a vicious cycle. When her pain is really high she ends up with muscle twitching. So to help with the sleep, she is to take Benadryl every night. It is the only thing that will reliably knock her out. Melatonin doesn’t work for her and we tried Aleve PM and while it made her tired, she still sat staring at the ceiling until well past midnight every night.

On Tuesday she will be seeing the neurosurgeon to decide what to do about her neck. This has been a long, hard road to diagnosis. It is such a relief to finally be making concrete plans for helping her to live a normal life with limited pain.