Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tapestry of Grace Year 3: Weeks 11-12: Jacksonian Democracy and Revolutions in Texas and Europe

These last two weeks have been a lot of fun!  We dove into history with stories of Davy Crockett, the Alamo, Cherokee Indians, and more.  We learned about Andrew Jackson, who was the first President from outside the aristocracy, born in a log cabin.  I have always loved Tapestry's book choices, but I am just not in love with The Story of the World.  The stories are fine, but I've often gotten bored with them.  They also are very clearly written from a secular world view, which is fine, but it's very obvious.  Because I've really been enjoying reading about Charlotte Mason method, and looking at ideas on Ambleside Online and Simply Charlotte Mason, I've gotten a lot of ideas about alternative books for our history readings.  These two weeks, we have read stories from This Country of Ours and Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans, both online free at  There are hundreds of fantastic books online free there.  I find these stories to be more detailed, but also more engaging to my kids than Story of the World.  We are loving the readings we've done from books on Main Lesson! (I found out about Main Lesson through our writing program, Classical Writing. It was recommended on their website.)

My kids really loved the stories of Davy Crockett.  Luke did a great notebook page about him, and wrote a paragraph about his childhood.

I'm beginning to implement more and more of the projects from Writing Aids. I really love what we're doing with Classical Writing, and plan to keep with it through high school.  The writing assignments in CW and Writing Aids are completely different types of things.  I like Tapestry's emphasis on "read, think, write," specifically about the history they are learning.  There are some really fun assignments in Writing Aids, as well as some great information in the students Talking Points, and really great graphic organizers.  This week, I had Luke use the WA Story map for his CW assignment, The Top and the Ball.  

Kiryn enjoyed reading about Susanna of the Alamo this week. 

 I have been wanting to do more memory verses with the kids, but it was one of those things I could never quite manage to plan or organize well. I found this verse pack that came with our Children's Desiring God preschool curriculum.  It's been great!  We're doing one verse a week, and it's been wonderful.  

Levi is trucking along with his phonics.  He did this all by himself! He knows all the letter sounds, and is beginning to smash the sounds together to make a word!  Progress! : ) 

It was a great couple of weeks in homeschool. We have a break planned the next two weeks as we have friends visiting, and Thanksgiving! 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Tapestry of Grace Year 3 - Week 10: John Quincy Adams and Political Realignment

We are getting back into the swing of things here at Preedy Academy!  This week, we began a new unit in our third year of Tapestry.  I just love the Tapestry books!  This unit, we are covering 1825 to 1850.  We began our studies with a look at the Presidency of John Quincy Adams, the last of the aristocratic presidents.  We also studied DeWitt Clinton, Governor of New York and his dream of seeing the Erie Canal come to be!

I didn't really know anything about the Erie Canal, but we went through a great book by Cheryl Harness that was very well-illustrated and engaging.  It had a song in the back cover that we also really enjoyed learning about the building of the Erie Canal.

This unit, I'm moving more of our work out of a notebook and into a copybook.  The kids have had copybooks for a couple of years now.  But I've just used it literally to copy things into, quotes, Bible verses from time to time. It hasn't been very useful.  So this  unit, we're doing daily copy work.  We're also introducing some more Charlotte Mason ideas, which I'll cover in a separate post.  We'll be doing some of our Charlotte Mason things in the copybook, as well as our spelling work, and any other writing work that doesn't have its own book.

Kiryn has been learning about mammals in her nature study portion of Classical Writing Primer.  She chose to study Charlie this week. :) 

We've been printing the painting of the week and putting it in her book.  I always love to read her observations of the art. 

I was really impressed with her homonyms, she did this with no help at all. Not bad for a six year old!

Here isa  picture of Luke's copybook from this week.  He's got his scripture memory verse, some illustrations, and his spelling dictation here. 

Kiryn's copybook from this week!

And here is Levi.  Apparently, dad showed the kids some YouTube videos of people walking on nails?? Here is Levi pretending this toy board is a bed of nails...  thanks YouTube.

We had some friends come for dinner this week, and those boys had such a blast dressing up as super heroes and chasing each other around the house!

I've been still struggling with my health. Physically, I feel fine most days.  But I've been on a path to understand where this autoimmune thing has come from.  Doctors say that a lot of people are born with the pre-disposition to certain conditions, but they only manifest if certain situations come to be in your life.  It can be triggered by poor diet, or digestive issues, or problems with your gut.  It can also be caused by stress.  There are other contributing factors, but these are the two most common ones.  I've been doing a lot of reading and research.  It's really hard to know without certain testing (only available in the US) if you have a compromised gut or digestive issues.  I don't have any of the apparent signs, but likely diet has been a factor.  But I KNOW that stress has been a factor.

Living in a third culture, a third world country that has a challenging culture just automatically ups the stress level on a daily basis.  Running a small business and feeling responsible to keep seven ladies employed, all in a second language, ups the stress level.  Having four small children ups the stress level.  Homeschooling and having your children always at home ups the stress level.  Going through an international adoption and learning your agency has not been honest with you ups the stress level.  Traveling internationally every six months (with four kids) ups the stress level.  Six months ago, I probably would not have said I was stressed out.  But it's been compounding and intensifying in ways I didn't understand over the last two years.

Because I've been realizing all of this, and it's been becoming more apparent the toll it's taken on my mental, emotional, and spiritual health, I have just felt tired, in every way, and overwhelmed.  I have a lot of emotional days, and a lot of days where I don't want to do anything.  For the last few weeks, school has been "bare minimum."  Bare minimum equals no fun pictures. :(  We've been keeping up with our work and the things we need to get done.  We're not falling behind.  We just haven't been doing any extras or fun projects or art.

Paul and I are doing what we need to do to deal with the stress, at least as much as we can while it is still present in our lives.  We can't really remove any of it.  We're working on learning better ways to deal with, counseling with our pastor and friends, and seeking a renewal from our heavenly Father.

We would really covet your prayers as we walk through a deep valley right now and attempt to pull ourselves out of it by the grace of God.