Academic Plan 2009-2010

Wow, how quickly the weather turned!  Feels like autumn already… and though it's my favorite season, I'm not quite ready for it yet.  I was hoping summer would last a tad longer!

No denying autumn is here though, and with it, the start of school.  I love when the tourists go home, the school-kids are back in school, and suddenly the roads are traffic-free, no more mobs at the museums and libraries we love to frequent… bliss!  Tomorrow we hit the books, and this is what the Peeps curricula will look like for the 2009-2010 academic year:

Peep #1- Sixth/Seventh Grade

Math– continuing with Saxon 7/6.  Love the Saxon programs!  He is working almost entirely independently on this, which helped a lot last year with freeing me up to work with Peep #2 on hers, which was more teacher-intensive.

Grammar– I am having Peep #1 work along with Peep #2 in First Language Lessons Level 4.  We will be supplementing with a Grade 6 grammar workbook, but the FLL series is so rigorous (and above grade level), that I like him to work along with us on that as well.  In addition to grammar, he will be completing levels G & H of the Spelling Workout series.

Writing– We haven't done much creative writing so far.  They do history narrations, science experiments, book reports and biographical sketches, but I want to focus a bit more on creative writing this year.  In that vein, they will both be taking a Writing Workshop at our local Homeschool Co-op.

History– Last cycle of Story of the World (v.4 The Modern Age).  As a Logic Stage student, instead of doing narrations for each chapter, Peep #1 will be writing outlines.

Science– exploring physics and how things work.  One or two times a week he'll complete an experiment, do a write up, and maybe add a sketch to his science journal.  We'll also be spending some time this year doing units on The Human Body and Biology. 

Latin– Continuing with Secundus Latin, supplementing with Learning Latin Through Mythology.

Logic– Continuing with Mindbenders A3/A4 two to three times per week.

Peep #2- Fourth Grade

Math– Saxon 5/4.  New format for her this year– more like Peep #1's.  This will be a bit of a challenge for me as well, since I will no longer have a "script" to follow when we do our math lessons!

Grammar– First Language
Lessons Level 4. I love this grammar series because it is thorough and contains dictation and memory work all rolled up into one package.  Nice!   Peep #2 will also be completing Spelling Workout E & F.

Writing– see Peep #1

History– see Peep #1

Science– Physics.  One or two times a
week she'll complete an experiment from Physics Experiments for Children, do a write up, and maybe add a
sketch to her science journal.  We'll also be spending some time this
year doing units on The Human Body and Biology. 

Latin– Continuing with Minimus Latin, supplementing with Learning Latin Through Mytho

Extra Curricular Stuff:  Both the Peeps are mad about Karate, and will continue with those lessons 3x per week.  In addition, they'll be attending classes every Friday at the Homeschool Co-op (Fun With Fractions, Writing Workshop, and  Monopoly & More) and monthly homeschool classes at our local Nature Center (Insects & Plant Life Series).  They'll continue with piano lessons, but formal art lessons are still up in the air.

Boo Breyers!

The other night a terrible headache woke me from sleep.  That never happens!  It almost felt like the headaches I get whenever I inadvertently eat something with MSG in it.  I had to take an Excedrine, which is the "big guns" for me since I try to use natural remedies whenever possible.  But this was a bad one.  I wound up lying awake for most of the rest of the night with an Exedrine-induced caffeine high trying to figure out what I might have eaten that caused it. 

A few days later, I'm curious and check the label on a box of Breyer's Peach Ice Cream I'd bought for the kids.  Yeah–the one that has "All Natural!" plastered all over the container.  "Natural flavor" is listed in the ingredients list… I don't remember seeing that before but I rarely buy ice cream so I'm not sure.  I do some internet research and find out that after Unilever purchased the company a few years back this mysterious "natural flavor" started appearing in the ingredient list on some of the flavors that previously had very limited ingredients lists (typically the fruit flavors).  And, I do know that MSG can legally be listed as "natural flavor." 

Hmmm…..coincidence that I got such a bad headache after I'd eaten some of that "natural flavor"-infused ice cream?  I dunno… but I sent an email to Breyer's asking them outright if there is MSG in any of their "natural" ice cream.  I anxious away a response (though I'm not holding my breath.)

Garden 2009

Meh.  Not a banner year in ye ol' garden…  summer started too late and some things fared better than others.  The peas and lettuce thrived, but my heat lovers (peppers, tomatoes, zucchini) have struggled.  I just harvest my first beefsteak tomato in mid August– practically a whole month later than usual.  They are coming in a nice steady flow now, though.  The peppers are finally coming in as well, and the string beans
are doing fabulously as usual.  My successes! 

Pumpkins tanked.  As did the zucchini.  Both got attacked by Squash Vine Borers that I neglected to stay on top of, so it's my own fault.  Out of about 7 great big Connecticut Field pumpkins I think only one has a good chance of surviving; the rest are on life support and their outlook is grim.  The butternut and acorn squash were attacked by some kind of worm– I think actually pickle worm, which normally doesn't make it this far north but– lucky me!– managed to this year.  The damage in not extensive, but I'm still not sure how they will fare.  Regardless, I doubt they will keep as long as I'd hoped with those little holes in them.

In the orchard, still no fruit!  I had hopes for the Gala apple tree, which actually did get some tiny fruit on it this year, but one day I went out to check on them and they'd all mysteriously disappeared.  I added a nectarine and new pear tree to the orchard this year.  Hope springs eternal…

On the other hand, the strawberries, raspberries and blueberries all produced rather well this year.

One other great success– garlic!  Of the 50 cloves I planted, I got 48 bulbs!!  Not too shabby, eh?  I cured them in one of the barns for a few weeks, cleaned them up, and now they are ready to use.  My hope is that they'll last through 'til next harvest. 

Part of the problem was the weather, true, but I also have to admit that I'm not as committed a gardener as I should be.  When the weather gets too hot, the last thing I want to do is be toiling in the heat and humidity.  I have no body fat.  That means that the temperature extremes (both freezing AND hot), cause me to retreat into Sloth Mode.  So probably just about the time I should be out there keeping on top of the bugs and weeds, I'm reading a book on the front porch.  But hey, that considered, I think I usually do pretty well in the garden.  And there's always next year to try again…

August 26, 2009

Summer has at last arrived in the northeast and …. now it's time to think about getting back to school!  The Peeps are excited to start, but I feel like I could use another week or two!  Best to strike while the iron's hot, so I'm planning on hitting the books September 1st.  'Sides, we can always do a little school work by the pool, right?