Category Archives: homeschool

First Day of Homeschool

PS_20150901103547Unlike the public school folks, homeschoolers can start a bit later. And today, one day after Labor Day, seemed fitting to get started with Grade 10.

Generally I schedule for the week over the previous weekend. This lets me plan ahead, juggle a schedule, fit in field trips and appointments, as well as meetings and other things that pop up. This week, he has scouts, doing yard work (which was yesterday), and I have meetings at various times. This means I have to plan ahead so he does assignments on his own, and I check them when I get back.

Wednesdays are easy days. He has scouts in the evenings and because we do homeschool in the evenings, I set only his Spanish lesson, writing, and daily journal for the day. Bear in mind, we also do things on the weekends sometimes. I even allow my son to trade days if he wants a weekday off.

So this year, we’re returning to the fun of exploring geography with hands on activities. We pick a country and explore arts, crafts, cooking, language, monuments, and the country’s history. We already covered Russia in the way of history via World War I, but this time we get to plunge a bit more in depth with its origins and culture. Dan picks out the recipes, and we’re trying to decide between Kalduny, Kotlety, or Pirozhki. For art, we might explore Faberge eggs, but we already learn about him a bit earlier. We could work on Russian Artists, and explore their style, or even explore Russian composers. We might also learn about the ballet in Russia, or try our hand at Russian folk dance. There’s myth and legends, such as Baba Yaga, the witch with a house that runs on chicken legs.

So much to explore.

We’ll be doing similar things with other countries.ww2Poster.Mock.2015.FINAL

History will include World History of World War II. This fits in great, since we’ll be attending a WWII re-enactment event in our town in October. There’s music, art, the war, technology, and medicine to learn in this time frame. We watch documentaries, read textbooks, and visit museums.

We went to the WWII weekend before and found it very fun. They had camps setup at the park of Polish, American, Russian, and other groups dressed as the soldiers of the WWII. They have a fashion show, and I remember a tent where you learned about the medical on the field of battle.

Social Studies also covers American history and Community which he gets plenty through the various topics we cover over the school year. As a Scout he regularly partakes on social events.

As for art, I want Dan to explore art journaling. Basically, we learn various techniques and he gets to try them in a journal. He doesn’t seem to like doing art, but I hope he can have fun with it. I’ve started an art journal playlist on Youtube where I collected some techniques and tutorials.

Music will include from the countries we learn (cultural music and composers), styles of music, and how music impacted our history.

Writing is also not his thing, but I’ve told him a hundred times that he needs it as a skill. We’re back into spelling, where he must look up word meaning, write out sentences, and utilize new words into his vocabulary. He will also keep a daily journal, and he will do regular reports, essays, and fiction pieces. Considering how he doesn’t enjoy it, he does have a natural flair for story telling, creative ideas, and even writes well. Spelling…well, not so good, but neither was I at that age.

Tomorrow I get his textbooks on Math and Science. We’ll be exploring Algebra, Economics, Biology, Earth/Space, and some Environmental Science. He likes Physics too.

For extracurricular, Dan picked Videography. We’ll be making and editing videos, maybe even trying out hand at special effects. He also agreed that he should learn computer repair since his laptop had issues the other day. I can teach him what I know. I think I still have my computer repair textbooks from the classes I took.

So it will be a busy year, but hopefully a fun, educational one.


Homeschool Update: We passed 9th grade

Homeschool9thWe passed the 9th grade, and now enjoy our summer vacation. Many homeschoolers continue to learn through the summertime, but I wanted to enjoy something of a vacation for a while. This means no homeschool planning for a month. This is vacation for me. Winking smile

Since we switched from the Board of Education reviews, the experience is far less stressful. We review twice a year; once in January, and the last review is in July. It means a bit longer school year, but we tend to start a bit later too.

With homeschool, I now have to maintain a transcript of his grades. We also started to consider the path to college. We even spoke to a college funding consultant (a friend of mine who does this for a living), and she’s helping with preparing him for college soon.

So I can now focus on other things, and Daniel can chill for a while until the school year starts. I might have to take up a reading list this summer, or learn a hobby to keep him from being bored.

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Adventures in 3D and D.C.


Oh spring, how I’ve missed you! We finally see warm weather, even being warmed by the sun. The Crocus blooms in the back yard, and my dog decided it’s a great time to shed. I can’t tell you how happy I am to see the snow and ice gone.

Updates to my life include self-learning Blender, playing around with movie making apps, changes with Score, and a few new things.

blenderBlender, (free) if you don’t know already, is a 3D modeling and animation program. There’s something of a learning curve to master everything it can do, including adding special effects to movies, but it’s a field I’d like to stretch my creativity and see what I can make. So far, I’ve worked with animation an ocean, but texturing is a bit difficult. I’ll share when I get something to show off.

I hope to make things like animated text, film introductions, and special effects in film.

tinkercadAnother program I found was Tinkercad, (free)and what makes this 3d modeling program so neat is that models you create can be saved as OBJ (which can be used in Blender or DazStudio, but also can be used with the 3D printing services. This works on smart phones too.

There is a 3D print factory in Hagerstown, MD, by the way. And you can use 3D print-on-demand with  Shapeways. There are other 3D printing on demand, but you’ll have to compare and check file expectations.

The Windows Lumia 830 phone I upgraded to offers some lovely quality for photos and videos, but I find the Windows still lacks in the way of entertaining apps for video editing. Since I have apps for the iPhone 4S, and I still have it, I figured I’d explore the movie editing and special effect features.

Here’s a sample of GunMovieFX for the iPhone, which adds bullets or lasers to your movies. I can also add blood splatters and even sound effects to scenes.


WP_20150328_11_36_10_ProWe took a trip with the Boy Scouts to the Air and Space museum in D.C. Omg, it was so cold that day- near freezing. People wore jackets, and I reminded them how long the waits can be when you wait for the Metro train.

Danny was shivering at one point, where I did the old ‘told-you-so’. Maybe he will listen to his mom from now on! Um…not likely.

We saw rockets, planes, and the World War II exhibits, as well as a section on light. It was fun.


We also visited the Natural History museum, but by then the crowds were getting insane, and my feet were killing me. I got to touch a piece of mars rock, though.

Some exhibits I didn’t’ want to stand around to wait to see. I wanted to see the butterflies (real ones) but the line went on forever. And anything that required standing deterred me from looking at too much. I hope to be in better shape the next time we go- build up my standing tolerance.

The planes in the Air and Space.


My handsome boys, who never seem keen on my taking photos Dave plays along, but Daniel often glares at me. I insist he’ll thank me later as I am keeping the memories of his childhood alive.


David took my photo as I took my adventures to my (imaginary) sky. This was an exhibit on balloon flight.


I thought I would also add that although I entitled this blog with the word adventure, my own thoughts on what that means basically is that I go outside my comfort zone. Since doing that more, I’m meeting so many people, having experiences, and having a better attitude in Life.

On to the adventures…!

Adventures in and homeschool parties

005This month, I’ve been welcomed into the local chapter. And what is Score, you may be asking. Well. it is a small business group comprised of business owners and retired business people who volunteer their time and skills to help other business owners. They mentor on things like marketing, or if you need help with accounting, or designing a web site.  I highly recommend to any and all who have their own business. Score provides helpful mentors and networking opportunities, and it is for free!

For Christmas, Dave bought our son Daniel a flight lesson at the Hagerstown Flight school at the airport. As my son hopes to be a pilot one day. The ‘Discovery flights’ was a fun-filled adventure for him. As his mom, I remained on the ground, watched him take flight and fervently hoped they wouldn’t crash.

He came safely back, sharing he got to experience zero g’s when the instructor, for fun, let the plane drop a bit. He had so much fun. I’m sure the experience fired up this want to be a pilot even more.

Here is the video I took- (part of the video is screwy because of trying to stabilize with Youtube settings)

Afterwards, we headed out to the PHLC co-op Christmas party. We joined this month for socializing with other homeschool families, and Dan met some other kids his own age.

It’s funny how often we get the socializing question, (How do you socialize your son if he’s homeschooled?) when in fact, local homeschoolers I’ve met are some of the most socialized, and -dare I say it- friendly kids. When I talk to the teens and other kids, they are well spoken, enthusiastic, gregarious people. As are the parents.

Every time I’ve joined in a homeschool group I found someone eager to share a resource or tip, and I gain the validation that I am not screwing up my kid. Winking smile

I was so glad they accepted Daniel, even introducing to him to others. He said he had a good time- as did I, and we have a New Year’s Party we might go to as well.

Some craft projects, and aviation museum trip

001Its not easy becoming a Silhouette Portrait Master. There’s some level of trial-and-error in the process, but I suppose that goes with learning anything.

Here I’ve made a t-shirt, realizing after I didn’t really center it as well as I should. I like the design, and have since found a chart online that gives the dimensions as well as placement of t-shirt deigns.

That might come in helpful for the t-shirts I design for my Zazzle store as well.


I also found the old Fabreeze luminary which has since lost its ‘refill’ thing, which gives the scent but also makes it a luminary, I made a new one. Take note, there’s no back. Originally I planned the design different, and ended up with this instead.

Either way, it ended up rather nice. I could even make these with the flameless candles, and use various designs as needed.


I made my sister a birthday card. She likes dragonflies, so made a cut out and stamped the background. She really enjoyed it.

I often have to make the envelopes too because the cards vary in sizes. But this allows me to also spruce up the envelope from embossing to stamping to using scrapbook papers to pretty them up.


On other news…

Pepper had to get her rabies shot, so we opted to also get her other shots updated, and a dog license. She’s legal now. Winking smile

I also got her a Lyme’s disease vaccine. Although, I haven’t seen a single tick on her this summer, I hate the idea of her catching something awful like that.

I’m not sure why we don’t one for humans, but we should. My son got Lyme’s disease, and fortunately showed the ‘bull’s eye rash’. He was on antibiotics for a month, and showed no ill side effects.

Sadly, even if you get it, you can get it again.


We visited the Hagerstown Aviation Museum, near the airport. They had some old planes out the public can view and even sit in!

Daniel had fun in the cockpit of the C-82A. he explained the controls and his knowledge of flight from his simulator. David also had fun with history and his own knowledge, while I took pictures.

046The biggest of the planes was a 1948 Fairchild C-82A, built in Hagerstown, MD. It was also called a ‘flying boxcar’.

This carried soldiers and cargo into World War II. This was also used to deliver paratroopers. I believe they considered this also a plane for post shipments as well.


087 And there were, of course, a number of small planes. This one you could actually sit in it. The guy in yellow is a volunteer, and share what he knew of the planes.

This model had the pilot sit in the back, while a student sat at the front. David is telling Daniel to not crash them (they weren’t allowed to fly).


090They did have a plan for flight, but it was $100 a pop. We couldn’t afford that, but I think it would be awesome to experience flight with an open cockpit.

This event played vintage music from the 1940’s, with lots of volunteers to answer any questions you would have about the planes. And this was FREE!

Next year, I’ll remember to bring cash to donate, though, because we really enjoyed the trip.

Stress free and creative projects

Since the homeschool review, and passing, I’ve felt so incredibly relaxed and stress-free. I still have oodles of things to do, such as work-related things and projects I do, but nothing saps my energy like the stress of a review.

I think there’s also this weight lifted from me, where I don’t feel as though I have to second guess all my efforts to teach my son something. Also knowing that Daniel has some new interests, all of which will count towards his education, serves to infuse our lives with the love of learning once more.

JellyLabelsI’ve been vastly creative this week as well. While my husband son went raspberry picking, processing their harvest to jelly, I provided moral support and the labels.

I also found new ideas for the Silhouette Portrait machine with vinyl lettering for the downstairs bath. I tried a swirly font, but the machine was giving me some grief, so I opted for a basic font instead.


I updated my office wall to include the quote “Do what you love” and changed the font for my ‘to do list’. I live by this list, which helps focus my brain on what needs doing.

I often include work, marketing, and house chores, taking great satisfaction with crossing things off through the day.

Homeschool should be funschool

IMG_4909[2]I’ve been frustrated beyond belief with the Board of Education review for the past year or so. I’ve mentioned this before, and still haven’t figured out why our reviewer became such a hardass.

All I know is that education became this grueling, tedious, boring process of working my son on things he wasn’t really interested in. (Namely textbook and worksheets). Some subjects he liked, but hated the work because of all the writing.

It broke my heart knowing that his education was something he hated, that he dreaded to do each day. I found myself not enjoying much about it either. 

So I took the plunge and switched to a local reviewer, known as an ‘umbrella group’’. I’ve tried this before and it didn’t work out too well, so I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much. Emailing the lady soon helped gain more confidence.

She’s a wonderful person, who recognizes the importance of education being engaging (fun even), and I feel we’re kindred spirits. She also understands the concept of unschooling (which doesn’t mean no-schooling, but child-led learning).

Today we had our review, and I’m delighted the reviewer not only recognized our hard work, but she pointed out that I don’t need to list our time schedule. I don’t have to keep track of how long our lessons are, but I should always include dates on the work shown.

She showed some other samples of other homeschooler’s reviews to illustrates what she looks for, and I was so relieved to see how much she accepts as learning.

When  I showed her our Secondlife adventures, photos from his scout camps, talked about his flight simulator, how he’s interested in photography and video, she was delighted with every bit of it.

I feel as though we can embrace our education again!

We’re officially in our summer vacation. NO HOMESCHOOL until September! This is not to say we don’t do stuff, but we don’t have to if we don’t want to. I can’t tell you how relieved and unstressed I feel about that fact.

I’ll post more on what we’ve done, are doing, and homeschool adventures in future posts.