Sandra at her desk, working on her physics pre-lab assignment.

I haven’t done this often in the past, but I thought I’d share our plans for how we’re going to tackle this year. Today we’ll do Sandra’s year and next we’ll talk about Matthias’ year.

Math is Pre-Calculus with Teaching Textbooks. Man, we continue to love that program with a fierce and fiery gratitude.

Science: Sandra is taking Physics 90 and Chemistry 90 at the university here in town. This will take up a fair chunk of our time with 11 hours of class and lab time per week, plus homework and reading.

We wanted to figure out a way to cover all of the things we wanted to hit in this, our last chance year. Which is a funny thing in and of itself because she’s going to do her undergrad studies while living at home, thereby giving us years more together to talk about any gaps that come up.

Our solution was to brainstorm a list of things we wanted/needed to cover. A whole buffet of ideas, subjects, and possibilities. Then we narrowed it down to a manageable list and are designing one or two-month units for them. We plan: (with assignments in brackets)

One Month Units:
Norse Myths (mini screenplay of one story)
Non-fiction (PowerPoint recap of “Guns, Germs, and Steel”)
Sustainability (10 most important changes our family could make, with reasoning)
History of Islam (5 page report on some topic)

Two Month Units:
Canadian History (two 5 page papers)

She is also doing:
German (Rosetta Stone, reading novels, a grammar course, and watching German television)
Spanish (Duolingo) (just a bit, about 10 minutes a day)
Phys Ed
Comparative Religious Studies (with her brother and grandfather, using a Great Courses lecture series)

And, to top it all off, she wants to be more widely read. However, while the vision therapy has worked marvels, she still finds reading ‘work’ and with this slate of classes, we’ve chosen to use audiobooks. Each month we have an audiobook to listen to. Some are classics, some are non-fiction. Right now we’re both listening to “Jane Eyre”. We are confirmed fans of and have had a monthly subscription there for years. This year we’re upping that by a credit so that we can still have fun books when they strike our fancy, too.

*Note – as far as I can tell American and Canadian high schools approach this differently. Rather than one science subject per year, we do general science in gr 9 and 10, then separate them into Bio, Chem, & Physics and let students choose how many of those 3 they’ll take in the last two years of high school.

First Day of School (with a backpack)

It’s the first time our back-to-school season has involved a backpack.

The local university has 90-level courses in maths and sciences for those who need to get prerequisites for the 100-level classes. Sandra is taking Physics 90 and Chemistry 90 as her grade 12 science credits this year. (We are doing biology at home.)

We are really happy about this. It gives her a slow transition into university, into being marked by a non-relative, into working in labs, and it gives her a chance to meet people.

Each class covers the material from Gr 11 and 12, so we’re hoping that mostly it’s a review of information and the newness lies in the setting and the testing. It’s 6 hours per week of class and 5 hours of labs. That’s a big shift for us. It means that a sizeable chunk of our week is gone, and we’ve been creative in planning how to do all we’d love to do this last year together. More on that to come.

I’m tweeting our first day of school today. You can find it here.

(and in case that link is as tricksy for you as it is for me, find me @PrairiePoppins)

I didn’t mean to take the summer off blogging, but I did.

In many ways, it’s been a time that I could categorize as ‘less talking, more listening’.

It’s been a slow time, a thoughtful time, a busy time, a laughing time. And through it all, I’ve felt compelled to listen and to think rather than to talk.

Quiet and calm

This morning I had planned to run errands, do housework, and generally Win Life. But I had forgotten the electrician was coming and so instead of winning life, I won a quiet morning…which just might be the same thing.

Good to see you again,

I’ve been really very idle today. And that’s an accomplishment.

Imagine taking a holiday at the office.

It’s a little hard, mixing home and work, and as a homeschooler I find taking breaks – true breaks – difficult. All through the year I compile a mental list that begins with the phrase, “I’ll get to that when we’re on summer break.”

Homeschoolers need rest. Homeschoolers need recharging.

Homes need work.

There’s a conflict there, and I am looking for a solution that also matches the reality of a one-income family. (How I’d love to just throw money at some of these problems! Make someone else do the work…)

I asked two friends what I ought to do: 1) work hard for a few weeks and get a couple of big tasks off my list and have a feeling of accomplishment before my time off, or 2) rest a week now and have some positive energy for the tasks. They told me to ‘Pay yourself first’. It seemed a good bit of advice and so this is one of my weeks off. I hope to get another later this summer.

Of course, first thing as I jumped in the shower this morning my mind thought of 3 emails and 2 phone calls I ought to take care of. Great, I thought, How am I going to get mentally on board with this?

The solution I came up with is this: I am giving myself 1 hour per day for To Do things. Housework? Emails? Errands? I get 60 minutes per day, so I’d better pick important ones and I’d better learn to let go of the rest. (Now, I’m not counting cooking in there.)

It’s early days yet, in fact it’s early Monday. But I’ve had some fun, relaxed a bit, done a bit, and now I’ve sent myself to my room to start reading a novel. It’s book 3 of His Majesty’s Dragon, if you’re wondering.


How do you keep a holiday at home?

Drawstring bags

Sandra will be done Monday, with Tias finishing up later next week. As the school year winds down, Sandra is doing a little bit of Home Ec to finish up her year. We are all doing a *lot* of soccer as we watch the World Cup. Oodles of soccer. And this World Cup the games are exciting, unpredictable, and fun to watch. I remember watching the round of 32 in South Africa with more of a sense of duty than delight.

We’ve been using this wonderful Drawstring Bag tutorial.

Drawstring bags

These are bags that I’ve done for myself, inspired by our shopping trip. The green one is the original size from the tutorial. The orange one I sized up to store bigger sweater projects. It’s wider than deep, and it’s a wee bit off in proportions, but I like it still. The blue one is a request from my sister who was looking to add something special at a very strict budget for a swap package.

I’ve never had a project bag that I bought, and the last round of bags I made for myself weren’t lined and the drawstrings and their placement weren’t very nicely done. Keeping my projects in these bags has been so nice. Up next I may try a box bag with a zipper.

Stomping all over the baby hat trend and tearing the streak to pieces:

Monster on the Prairie

Meet Müller. As in Thomas Müller. Knitting on this little scrap monster kept me calm during the beginning of the Germany-Portugal game, and then just plain happy during the rest of the game when we were just plain happy.

Germany get a penalty shot. Nerves.
::during the penalty shot. even the cat can’t look::

Since Müller had an astonishingly great game, Sandra has decided that he should give his name to the little striped guy, and has plans to stage a soccer-themed photo shoot for him. In the meantime, the juxtaposition of the monster against one of my dad’s photos of the prairie is just cracking me up. Little Monster on the Prairie.

Every now and then I go on a knitting jag. Might be afghan squares for Knit-A-Square, or too many cotton dishcloths, or baby hats.

It’s baby hats this time.

baby hat mania

Almost all of these are improvised, but the little sky blue and purple hipster slouch is Doodie from Woolly Wormhead’s excellent and adorable Wee Woolly Toppers book.

I’ve been needing to knit, but also needing no pressure to knit something that had to fit a particular person or have much in the way of failure points. Baby hats for our La Leche League charity sale is about as low pressure as I can think of. Baby hats are also fantastic for using up scraps and being freakishly, satisfyingly adorable.


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