Dec 9, 2013

Learner's Permit - DONE!

Second time was a charm, but she needs some serious practice!!!

Can you see the fear in her face?????

She has a long way to go, but has another stepping stone done. Next she will be taking some edX courses, choosing a driver's ed program and touring some cosmetology schools.

Dec 3, 2013

WAIT ... It's December?

I popped onto my blog this morning to hunt down a resource for a friend when I noticed that I had not posted since OCT!!! In the six years that I have been doing this, it is the one and only time that I have NOT posted for an ENTIRE month!!! That seems really bizarre to me! Yet, it is rather poignant of the status of my life - beyond hectic and shifting in a myriad of ways that I had not anticipated.

I have been rather quiet about the changes going on as they are not fully related to the main topic of home education which I try to stay focused on here, but at the same time learning is part of life and we are constantly learning from life, so as things shift we must also shift our perspective and reevaluate our priorities.

Since KM has completed her "formal" lessons and is basically making up for all the "summer vacations" she has not taken over the last few years, we have been focusing on her getting her license and taking a more responsible role within our newly single parent household. I have been working more hours and trying to get a lot of projects that were left unfinished around the property completed, which has left her to take on a lot of the regular household tasks. Although she is usually pretty good about getting things done, I do still need to make her a list and when something is NOT on the list ~~ even if it is staring her RIGHT IN THE FACE ~~ it will not get done, but we are working on this! Once we get a grip on these two things, KM can start looking for a job and applying to schools.

It feels a bit ironic that we are both arriving at a pivotal point in our lives where we need to figure out what path we want to take. My daughter is quickly coming to the point at which I became a mother, diverging from the course I thought my life was going to take and starting a multitude of shifts that have led me almost full circle to where I stood 17 years ago --- single, overwhelmed and unsure of what I want to be when I grow up! I am definitely not the same impulsive, reckless, irresponsible, foolhardy 18 year old I was then ~~~ in fact most people who know me now would be SHOCKED to hear those words connected to me in any way!!! ~~~ but I am a bit lost. Having your reality altered and identity that you have held onto for more than half your life abruptly and completely ripped away from you will do that to a person.

So I am starting to make changes. I am starting to focus a bit more on me. I am realizing that the strengths that I have always had are even stronger than I realized they could be. I am learning that independence is empowering, but asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of. My daughter is learning that making the right choices isn't always easy and even when you have to make sacrifices, those resignations strengthen your character. These are life lessons that she will hold in her heart forever.

As we continue to shift, I don't know for certain what will happen here with my blog. Of course I will be leaving all the archives, resources and links open, however I cannot guarantee that I will be keeping them as up to date as I have in the past. Please continue to check back in and send people along as there really is an incredible collection of free and extremely affordable resources, along with a lot of insight, suggestions and tricks of the trade within this corner of the webosphere.

Oct 27, 2013


DID IT!!!!!

KM got the most fantastic news, she PASSED HER GED!!!!

I can't even express the amount of pride I feel for this incredible child of mine. She was so worried and concerned about the essay, but passed all her tests on the first try and averaging above average in all areas!

Her results are - 
LA, Reading - 550
LA, Writing - 530
Mathematics - 680
Science - 620
Social Studies - 630

She passed in the 91st percentile!!! Which means that only 9% of the people taking this test scored higher than she did! I don't usually like to brag, but that is pretty freaking good!!!!

So although she is technically "graduated" the learning does not stop! She will be studying for her permit retest as well as starting a psychology program this week. She has decided to try to get a job over the winter and wait, at least until next year, to apply to cosmetology school. Her future is wide open and I am so excited to see where she will go next!

Oct 20, 2013

All Done - Just waiting for results!

KM took the rest of her GED tests on Friday and after hearing that she got a 680 on her Math the previous week she is feeling like she did really well! She thought that the Science reading passages were far longer than any of the practice tests led her to believe, she took almost the entire time allotted for the Social Studies section and breezed through the Reading Comp test. Now we wait. In two weeks we can call to see if the results are in and then we have to go in person to get the results - this seems a bit bizarre but it is the rule. Will post when we hear!

Oct 13, 2013

2 down, 3 to go!

So KM made it through the first round of testing for the GED!!! She has completed the math portion and the language arts, writing and essay sections. As I am sure most of you know, the essay was what she was most concerned about, but she got a fantastic question and felt like she did a pretty good job! She took this part first and she came out looking very pale and feeling rather queasy from the stress, but once she got a snack and recapped how she did she was perked up and ready for the next test.

She went in pretty confidently to the math section. While we were waiting for the proctor to open the doors we talked about graphing - the only part of the math section that was worrying her - and our conversation went something like this -

KM - "X is horizontal and Y is vertical, right?"
Me - "Yes remember that the tail of the Y points down."
KM -" When the numbers are in the brackets is it (X,Y) or (Y,X)?"
Me - "(X,Y) they are in alphabetical order."
KM - "Why are you just giving me the hints NOW?"

Oh the things they retain and the things that seem to fly right out their heads!!!!

When she emerged from the second round of testing, I asked how she did and she seriously responded "They don't give us our results right away!" I said, " I know that, but you must have some sense of how you feel like you did." She replied, "Well I only had to guess on three of them and only had two graphing questions, so I did all that extra studying for nothing." "So you think you did pretty good then." "I guess so." Oh the enthusiasm of a 16 year old!

She has three more tests - Science, Social Studies, and Reading Comprehension - next Friday and we may be able to get the results of these tests that day. Keeping our fingers crossed for that!

Oct 3, 2013

Update - Things are leveling out... I think!

There have been a whole lot of changes going on around here. Some good and some bad, but KM and I are adjusting and finding our new normal. We have been super busy getting projects done around the house and 

We finally got KM registered for the GED and she will be taking it on 10/11 and 10/18. She is really excited and feeling confident. I was really surprised at how difficult it was to get the things that we needed and how little the testing center knew about home educators, but we did and she is studying and practicing her essays. 

KM also took her permit test, but did not pass. She got all the questions that were actually about driving correct, but she had some difficulty with the questions that were actually about laws having to do with your license - I honestly don't think I could have answered some of the questions that she missed!

Other than that we are spending a lot of time getting things done around the house, reorganizing and CLEANING OUT!!!!

Will be sure to post updates as she takes the test so STAY TUNED!!! 

Sep 19, 2013

OMG - Where did the time go????

She is 16!!!!

The time has flown by! She is kooky and crazy...

but I couldn't be more proud of the incredible person that she is becoming!!!

Hope that this year brings many more incredible adventures!!!

Sep 13, 2013

Update - Things going smoothly

We are nearing the end and things are going very smoothly. KM has been studying for the GED, we have gotten her testing dates and we are just waiting for her birthday so she can get her permit and we can register her. We are so fortunate that there is a testing center where she will be able to have three chances for testing if necessary. I had to call several in our area and the one that we are going to be using is a bit further than I would like, but they are the only one who will be having testing in Oct, Nov and Dec, before the testing changes. Many of the other sites are only doing Oct & Dec and a few were even only doing Nov, which I found rather strange and limiting. All new registrants have to be registered before Oct. 18th in order to take the current test, so we are quite lucky that she will even be able to get in before the Oct cut off.

We had a bit of an issue getting the documentation necessary for her to take the test as a 16 year old. I was shocked that so few of the people that I spoke with either had no idea what she would need as a home educated child who has never attended high school or had no idea that a letter was needed at all for a child under 18. The college that she will be using was very willing to accept whatever I could provide, but urged us to try to get a letter that states that she is "not enrolled" in the public school - as for some reason this is a requirement to take the test if you are under the age of 18. When I contacted the school neither the superintendent's office nor director of student services had any idea of what it was I was asking for. I find it rather hard to believe that no one in our school district has taken the GED as a 16 or 17 year old, but whatever. I eventually was persistent enough to get what we needed and will be registering her on the 23rd.

KM has been studying her butt off and is feeling really confident in most areas, but suddenly has begun having some issues in math, but I think she just needs to review it and will be focusing on that area for a bit. I think she will do just fine on the first time through, but it is good to know that there is the opportunity to retest available if she needs it.

Hope you are enjoying your NOT Back to School time! We have been really busy around here transitioning, reorganizing, and trying to keep everything on track. Fall always brings a lot of home ed questions and feel free to either email me, leave a question or comment in the section below or to search through the archives to find an answer to any questions you might have!

Thanks for stopping by!!!

Aug 24, 2013

Quiet around here

As we are winding down our home ed journey things may be quite quiet on the blog. If I find new or interesting resources I will be sure to post them and as we get closer to the process of KM registering and taking the GED I will be sure to post about that experience as well. However for the time being feel free to hunt through the archives, scroll through my top posts - listed a bit of the way down the right sidebar - and check out all the pages of free and nearly free resources we have gathered over the years!

Aug 12, 2013

Guess who's back --- CNN Student News


That's right CNN Student News our FAVORITE current events resource will be back on the air starting Monday August 12th! If you have not checked out this fantastic FREE resource, it is the easiest way to include current events in your daily home ed life! There is a daily 10 minute broadcast that is available after Monday through Friday and gives a fantastic synopsis of U.S. as well as world events. There is also a daily curriculum and weekly 10 question quiz available for those that like that sort of thing in both web version and PDF files. Parents are welcome to subscribe as educators to get the answer key as well as some other bonus materials throughout the week! Kids are encouraged to respond and interact on the Blog: A to Z as well as by participating in polls and sending in student iReports. This will be our 4th year using CNN Student and KM loves watching it while eating her breakfast every morning! 

~~~ Please note that CNN Student News is designed for use in middle and high school classrooms. It's always a good idea for you to preview each program before showing it to students. To learn more about how to use Student News in your classroom, click here: FULL STORY

Aug 2, 2013

Fuller Craft Museum - Highland Street Free Fun Friday

I had been meaning to get to the Fuller Craft Museum for some time now. The website was rather vague, but there were a few exhibit features that seemed like they would be quite interesting, so when we saw it was participating in the Highland Street Foundation Free Fun Friday program we decided it was time to go.

There were a few hands-on things KM enjoyed, but most of them were not quite up her alley.

And there were a number of beautiful sculptures, sensational mosaic pieces and carved wood fixtures that were breathtaking.

It took us a little over 30 minutes to drive to the museum and we weren't even there 45 minutes before we had seen all the exhibits. We were planning to have lunch there, but the "cafe" had nothing but coffee, tea and chips ahoy cookies. This really was a bit of a disappointment. I heard from another patron that they do have some really great art programs throughout the year, but that they are quite expensive given the area. I also would NOT suggest bringing little ones as there are quite a few displays that are just open and there were a number of personnel shouting at young ones who were scooting around fragile pieces that were on pedestals in the middle of corridors - who ever thought that was a good idea should probably get a different job! I don't like to give negative reviews, but I would not plan on making a trip to Fuller Craft Museum unless you had other things to in the area.

For more information on the remaining venues that are participating in Free Fun Fridays be sure to click the link below -

Jul 25, 2013

Zombies in our library!!!

TAG Zombies Trapped in the Library
Of course they had to learn Thriller

Had some incredible make-up done by Katie Leishman 
More than a little creepy and a whole lot of fun!

Another great visit to Boston topped off with the Commonwealth Shakespeare Players!

KM can't get enough of Boston and when she has experiences like ----

 getting to wear a burmese python named Goldie,

and sprawling out on the lawn with friends

to watch an incredible performance of Two Gentlemen From Verona 
I guess it is understandable why she loves it! 

Anyone who is in the area needs to get to the common to see this spectacular show before it's gone for good after Sunday 7/28! Commonwealth Shakespeare Company did an outstanding job at seamlessly intertwining this classic shakespearean tale with rat pack vegas tunes like "Luck Be a Lady," "Change Partners" and "I've Got You Under My Skin." This has to be one of the best shows I have every seen!!! SO get on down and bring the kids - they will surely enjoy the humor, choreography and of course the cute little pup!!

Jul 15, 2013

Incredible Performances at Outside the Box Boston!

Any excuse for KM to get to go into Boston is met with enthusiasm, but this trip in was for some truly incredible performances at the Outside the Box festival!

Our two favorites had to be Nenna Gulati & the Triveni Ensemble and Australia's Strange Fruit -

Here are some clips, we apologize as they are a bit shaky ---


Not sure yet if we are going to make it in again later in the week, but we are hopeful it will be a bit cooler if we do!!! There are a plethora of incredible performers hitting these stages so if you are in the area make sure you get down to the common!!!

Jul 12, 2013

A Daunting Topic - Home Ed Transcripts

As we are finishing up with our official home ed adventures this fall, I have been spending some time poking around at high school transcripts. Since there is no reason to reinvent the wheel I thought I would share some of the rather interesting results I found. Be forewarned that although I generally try to have secular resources, these are not all secular, but I feel as though the specific transcript content outweighs the religious tone.

After looking over these I feel far more confident that I can whip something up if necessary! It also helps that we use the Homeschool Tracker Plus, so most of KM's information is already to go! 

Jul 7, 2013

There is a strangeness...

in sitting across the table from your daughter who is jamming out to songs that you would have been jamming out to at 15. At this age when she is coming into her own and expressing her true individuality it is quite an interesting mix. She enjoys reading as much as I do, horror movies as much as CJ, and has an unexplainable love of ALL things Japanese - even sushi!

There are many similarities between the two of us and I often see her doing or saying things that make me think "she is SO my daughter." Of course I also have moments when I look at her and see a very obvious CJ expression across her face or hear his words coming off her lips, but it is more than a little eery staring into some sort of weird retro twisted universal mirror that makes you realize just how quickly this precious time is passing. We need to remember to cherish this time and be more than a little thankful that we are blessed with such an incredible person in our lives!

Jun 28, 2013

Societal Development - Some interesting thoughts!

Before you read on please take a look at - Artificial Anarchy: Is Government Organic?
Now for those who may not have caught on, I was the one mentioned in the post who had brought up the idea that maybe they are just recreating their environment. I don't often get into political ideas here, but this is one that I find rather perplexing and my train of thought is below -

While I agree that some sort of order or organization is completely within our human nature, I think the reason that my mind went in the direction of the children "recreating" the world around them was in how closely the "societies" that they are creating are aligned with our current system - i.e. currency, leadership, punishment etc.
It made me wonder more along the lines of - if our children's generation was not so exposed to our current government and how it works, would they be just as likely to create that same sort of government? Our system has evolved over centuries and if we could have the benefits of our technologies and other advancements - societal, psychological, etc - but removed from the control of the government, would they still create that same sort of scenario?
Think of it this way - I remember playing school with my friends as a kid and loving it! We would take turns being the teacher, we would give out assignments, read aloud to the class, give out homework and even having spelling tests. My friend's kids who have always been home educated don't do that. They see school as a negative thing, they feel sorry for the kids that have to enter the big bad yellow monster every day to get herded into classrooms.
Young people today are shocked and horrified to hear of discrimination and segregation, but I have clients' in their 90s who grew up with that as the norm and are often shocked to see how many minorities are on television. Our children would never allow things to revert back to the standards of that generation because their perceptions have not been corrupted into thinking that anyone's life is less valued based on the color of their skin.
Of course there is no way to prove this hypothetical societal development, but it does make me really question whether our government is worth saving ---- sort of like the school system.

I would love to hear what other's thoughts and opinions are on this topic.

Jun 20, 2013

Perpetuating the Norm - Why do you stop learning in the summer?

This time of year the homeschool world seems to be all abuzz with end of the year parties, burnt out rants and thinking ahead to next year's school plans. As the weather gets warmer threads like - "What are you doing this summer?", "Join us for the annual end of year picnic." and "Looking for science curriculum for next fall." suddenly overtake the corner of the web that home ed families connect in. Each year I get more and more bothered by this cycle which perpetuates the norm of public school. 

"Short school years with long vacations are not the norm in Europe, Asia, or South America either. Children in most industrialized countries go to school more days per year and more hours per day than in America. While just sitting in a classroom longer does not necessarily ensure children will learn more, many American teachers spend weeks every fall just reminding kids of what they forgot over the summer." quote from Rachael Stark 

The American school calendar is based on antiquated nonsense - check herehere and here for some history lessons on the topic - and is thought to be one of the greatest impediments to successful education in the United States. So why is it that a significant group of people who realize that the public school system is lacking in so many ways can't seem to recognize one of it's largest faults.

I think for many it is childhood memories of all the fun and freedom they had during the summer and failure to recognize that in reality their kids could actually have that fun and freedom ALL year, rather than containing it to a small allotment of their schedule. I completely understand the wealth of activities that summertime brings which suit a child being a child, however I struggle with seeing how the other seasons don't.  This was not a realization that I came to only after removing KM from public school, infact she quite often says that it is my fault that she was so bored in school because I gave her "summer school" work every year. Previously I used the time off in the summer to cover things that I thought were seriously lacking in school. I just couldn't see the point in wasting all that time - 11-14 weeks - doing nothing. Once she was no longer going to public school, I developed a schedule that fit our lifestyle - more on that here and here - rather than sticking to something that we had no connection to and I couldn't see the logic in. At what other time in your life do you get a 3 month vacation every year? How is that preparing kids for the "real world"?

If your child shows interest in the budding plants, chirping baby birds and salamanders they found under the logs in the backyard, why would you make them wait until fall to start a biology curriculum that you think they will enjoy? Carpe diem!!! Take advantage of the seasons, make learning part of your life, rather than something separate and subjugated.  - more on my thought on this here

If you find a balance within your own family each and every season, you will find that learning happens all the time. I am not saying this in a "don't use curriculum" or "don't have a schedule" sort of way, but with the intention to encourage you to find the routine that works for your family! Home education's biggest asset is the flexibility and customization it allows. If you space out your lesson plans to fit your family, rather than fitting your family into someone else's timetable you will start to see the rewards quite quickly and you will be helping to end the ridiculous notion that school is the almighty NORM! 

Jun 19, 2013

Free Fun Fridays - Presented by Highland Street Foundation





This is a great opportunity to check out some great attractions! 
CLICK HERE to print the full list of scheduled events! 

Jun 14, 2013

Glass Lab Musical - MIT Museum Free Second Fridays

This month's FREE Second Friday at the MIT Museum was -Through the Listening Glass: A Concert by the MIT Glass Band - Immerse yourself in a tapestry of glass-blown music. Members of the MIT Glass Band come together with special guest Mark Stewart, MIT Glass Lab Artist-in-Residence, to create a one-of-a-kind symphony of sound and chat with visitors about the art and science behind the creation of the instruments. Come for one, stay for all—it’s never the same thing twice! Watch a short documentary about the Glass Band here.

Unfortunately I had to work, but KM caught a ride in with some friends of ours and had an incredible time!

Besides the MIT Glass Band, KM found the most interesting aspects of her visit to the museum to be learning about how bubble wrap was created and watching a machine make a paper clip!

Jun 10, 2013

Fahrenheit 451 - Synopsis

Here is a really great breakdown and analysis of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451presented by Academic Earth -

Created by

Jun 6, 2013

Play Stories Build Life Stories

I have always loved legos, but this new advertisement has brought my love to a whole NEW level!!!!

Jun 4, 2013

Some Random Pics

Every once in awhile, I am quite surprised by some of the random pictures I find on my camera and here are some I simply forgot I took and some that were a bit shocking -----

Walking in the rain!

Even 15 year olds find paper bags FUN!!!

Apparently the lady at the pet store cannot count to 12!

She offered to mow the back lawn without me asking!!!

Jun 2, 2013

Then they were gone!!!

and then they were gone!!!
They were there....
KM got her braces off on Friday and she was SOOOOO excited!!! Although she was a bit disappointed when she was told she shouldn't bite into an apple for at least another 2 months......

May 31, 2013

Straight Forward Math - WHAT A BRILLIANT CONCEPT! ~~~ Recycled Post

I have decided to recycle some of my reviews in order to help out those that are looking for resources and information for the upcoming "academic year".

KM started with the straight forward math series just a few weeks ago and though she has never complained about math - besides the repetition that often occurs - she can't say enough about how fantastic this program is!

It is literally Straight Forward and to the point! It gives short descriptions of theories or principles that it wants to cover, then it gives 1 or 2 well broken down examples and 10-15 practice problems. That's it, no long drawn out situations or concepts that confuse the kids just cut and dry here is the facts and here is how it works. Concise, uncluttered step-by-step progression of math concepts.

This is from their FAQ section and really sums it up well -

What is unique about your math offerings?
They tend to be no-nonsense, straightforward presentations. No frills, no cute pictures, no minimal text or minimal practice on a page. These are the serious books which teach to mastery. Perfect for on-level students, homeschoolers, older learners needing to refresh skills, or progressive self-learners.
How is the Straight Forward Math Series orgainzed?
The simple, computational facts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are highly structured drill books. Mastery of these basic facts leads to the higher level books of pre-algebra and pre-geometry, on through algebra, geometry, trigonometry, precalculus, and calculus.
From pre-algebra up, concepts are presented and explained, modeled by example, and practiced in focused exercises. Periodic review and testing help to measure attained and retained skills.
You can check out samples of some of the books HERE

The only area for the Algebra series that I do think is lacking is with word problems, so we will be supplementing with Scholastic Word Problems Grade 4-8. This should keep her problem solving skills in check.