Weekly Update

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The kids and I are still trying to get into a school routine, but we had a nice week easing back into our schedule. Many of the twin’s outside classes have not started yet, but they have begun their at-home studies. They worked on biology, history, algebra (1 and 2), health and literature.


The highlight of their week was finishing And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie. They are reading this book for their teen book club, and they both loved it. Neither one of them could put it down once they started and now they are both reading Murder on the Orient Express.

Tru has also been enjoying his Algebra 2 class that he is taking through CTY online. He spends a couple of hours on it each day and always has some amazing math fact to tell me afterwards. It is wonderful to see him so enthusiastic about math.


Speaking of Tru, he has also been pouring over another great book, One Two Three . . . Infinity. My friend gave Tru this book because she thought he would enjoy it, and I am so glad she did. I had never heard of it, but I have since read up on it. Apparently it is a classic  in the science and math world . If you have an older kid or teen who loves either subject I highly recommend this book.

Also this week Autry decided that she wants to make lecture videos on the joy of classical music. I think she was inspired by The Great Courses, so she spent the week making her introduction video. She enjoyed making it, and I got a kick out of watching it.


This week Decca finished week 2 of Latin, week 3 of this month’s Arrow, and the first few lessons of the environment and cycles unit in MBTP. I am not sure why Moving Beyond the Page is not more popular in the homeschooling world, but I feel like it is one of the best options out there, especially if you have a creative or gifted learner.


Working on a project for Moving Beyond the Page

Decca also started his first set of lessons in Beast Academy 4a. We just received his next two books in Life of Fred, fractions and decimals, which we will probably start next week. Honestly math is not a favorite subject of his, but with these books he does seem to tolerate the work.

Also this week Kingsley and I spent a day at the doggie beach in Newport. He had an amazing time!

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And that is our week in review!

Weekly Update

Winter break has come to TAD Town, and we are all enjoying it immensely! Although we have not been toiling all day on school, we have been busy.

This week we made paper snowflakes.

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And we made some holiday ornaments. My sister-in-law posted this awesome link to DIY Lego ornaments (which include a handful of Star Wars ornaments), and we gave it a go. We didn’t have all the correct colors, but we did have all the pieces. Here is our weirdly colored Gingerbread house.

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Decca designed his own ornament, and I thought it turned out nicely. This is his reindeer, complete with built-in hook to hang it from the tree.

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The kids also spent a great deal of time in front of the television watching Horrible Histories. Amazon has the seasons available for only $9.99 right now, so I bought all three seasons. The twins love Horrible Histories and have been watching episodes all week. I can always tell  when they are watching them as the laughter in the house increases substantially.


Yesterday the kids, my mom, and I went to Disneyland. Nothing puts me in the holiday mood faster than walking among all the decorations at Disneyland. It was quite festive!


Today I am frantically trying to get ready for our Christmas party that we are having tomorrow. For some reason I thought is would be a great idea to throw a party for the twins and their friends ten days before Christmas. I also decided it would be an even better party if it was Harry Potter themed.

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I am not sure I was thinking straight when I made these decisions, and I would ponder my decision-making powers if I had the time. Instead I am busy making house badges, Butter Beer lattes, wands (both edible and non-edible), and other various goodies. Tomorrow we will be busy decorating for the party. Hopefully it will look great!


And that is our week in review.

Weekly Update

We have been home for almost a week now, and we are starting to get back into the swing of things. The first few days the kids and I were very tired from our trip that we had trouble getting motivated.


This is a picture of three very bored and tired kids on the plane on the way home from Chicago. Our four-hour flight turned into more of a six-hour flight due to runway delays at both Chicago and Orange County. In Chicago we had to sit on the  runway for nearly an hour while the mechanics double checked the plane due to a warning light that came on. We finally left, and our flight was quick and uneventful to Orange County. However once we landed we were informed that there was no gate for us to taxi to due to the thick fog that had been in Orange County that morning. We ended up spending another hour on the plane just waiting for a gate to open. It was hot and stuffy in the plane, and we all wanted off.

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The kids and I were only on about four hours sleep, and by the time we got home I was done. I hardly made it through the day, and that night I slept for almost twelve hours which is quite crazy for me. I must have been worn out from the trip and needed the sleep. The next day the kids and I finished decorating the tree for Christmas.

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My parents put the tree up while we were gone, and my mom decorated the house. It was great coming home to a festive house with a tree already up (thanks Mom!).

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Besides decorating the house the kids each began reading new books this week. The twins are reading Seraphina, and they both love it. They are enjoying it so much that neither can put it down, but since we only have one copy, they have to take turns. The minute one of them puts it down, the other picks it up.

photo(10)Tru is often into a book like this, but it has been a while since Autry has been. Because she was in school the last year and a half, she rarely had the time for reading for pleasure. She had very little free time due to school, homework, and lessons. In addition she seemed to have lost her love of reading while at school. I am so happy to have her home, and I am so happy to see her once again lost in a book.

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Decca also started a new series this week. He is reading The Boxcar Children. This series is below his reading level, but somehow we missed it when he was younger (although the twins read it). There was a deal on kindle this week for the first ten books in the series for only $6.00. I decided to grab them at that price, and he has been reading them all week. It is a pleasant change to see him reading something other than Scooby Doo.

Tru is still plugging along in all his work. He is flying through Teaching Textbooks geometry, and he is nearly finished with his great course on Understanding the Universe. I need to get him a new course for January, and I am hoping I can pick it up greatly discounted. With all the sales floating around lately this shouldn’t be too hard.

Autry is working through Life of Fred algebra. She came home from school with no confidence in her math abilities, but with Fred’s help, it is slowly coming back. Today we worked on mixture problems which did not come easy to either of us. Luckily Khan Academy is around to help. She watched a few videos on the concept, and then she sat back down to work them out.


We finished the week working on Block by Block and with a game of Sushi Roll. It was a great ending to our week.

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Weekly Update – 8th grade

Last week I featured my youngest son and his work, and this week I thought I would discuss Tru and his work. This is his eighth grade, and the year has been going so smooth I can hardly believe it. He is working almost entirely independent, and he is doing all his work easily and without complaint. It is as though he matured over the summer and is suddenly the perfect homeschool student. He enjoys all his school, works hard from about 7:30 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon, and doesn’t complain at all. It has been wonderful.

He seems to have gotten into a routine of sorts. He starts the day with his computer work, which for him is CNN student news, Rosetta Stone French, The Great Courses Understanding Astronomy, and Teaching Textbooks Geometry. After this he completes his geometry lesson and works on his one-year American history (which is mostly reading). Then he breaks for lunch.

After lunch Tru starts back with LoF Algebra (which he wanted to work through again this year for review), works through language arts (IEW, easy grammar, vocabulary), reviews his French textbook, and then works on his film studies.

I picked this vintage French textbook up years ago, and now Tru is using it. We both like it very much.

This week he is editing a film that he shot last weekend. He is also watching The Battleship Potemkin with me and taking notes on it (specifically going over the plot and writing down the plot points).

Tru finishes his day with independent reading. This week he read The False Prince which he seemed to like, but I don’t think he was crazy about it. He has a long day, but he has consistently gotten through his work, and I am very proud of him.

One of his boss creations

Of course I should mention that once he is done with his work he is free to get on his computer. He got a new computer this week, and he has been creating  bosses for a game he is making. He is obsessed with this right now, and I believe is might be motivating him to get through his work even faster. I don’t mind, as it makes for very pleasant, stress-free days.

Weekly Update from Autry

Hello readers of TAD Town. This is Autry; and I have decided to write this week’s weekly update.

The reason for this is because mom is sick with this thing called mono. It’s not very bad with kids but it’s bad with adults. This is quite ironic because a few months ago, mom bought me this stuffed animal: a Giant Microbe of the disease mono. Mom unfortunately told gramps that she had it and that it made her arm tingle. If you even tell gramps you have a cold, he is going to miraculously come down with it even if he hasn’t seen you.

Mono. She’s sorry she infected you, mom.

Well I’m not quite sure what the boys have been up to as I have been away, so I will tell you what I’ve been doing. I don’t see the point of my school after the end of Conservatory. All it is after that is just finals and nonsense like that. Ah, well. I have been doing my best with that. I lent my History teacher a copy of the Story of the World and she really liked it: she wrote it down for her curriculum next year! I say, excellent: Susan Wise Bauer’s stuff makes every class better! She is so awesome.

Apart from this, I have been completely OBSESSED with the Legend of Korra. It’s my new favorite TV show ever because I loved Avatar the Last Airbender, and Korra and the characters are so wonderful. The animation is stunning, and if you’re a total avatar fan like me, it’s just so amazing. One of the main reasons I am so obsessed with the show is because of this lady:

Lin Beifong. She’s Toph’s daughter (Toph was in the original series). She’s just so incredibly awesome. In every episode with her in it, I just sit there in awe of her awesomeness. I don’t know what words would get my point about her across. Watch the series and you’ll know what I mean!

We are leaving on Tuesday for Indiana! It’ll be so fun and I can’t wait to get away from finals! I hope mom gets better soon 🙂

And I end this post with an amazing fact: I am almost 13!

Weekly Update

I know it is Sunday, a little late for an update, but I figured better late than never. The kids and I had a busy week this week, and the first thing that gets neglected when I get pressed for time is my blog. Today is a nice relaxing day though, so I thought I would spend some time recapping the last few weeks.

Decca and I started one last unit in his animal studies, and he is enjoying it. We are using an Intellego unit study on dolphins, and I have to say I am somewhat surprised by how happy I am with this study. I have looked at Intellego many, many times, and I was always underwhelmed by what I saw. It seemed to me, from the samples I looked at, that it was just a collection of links and nothing more. Well it is a collection of links, but there is a good deal of thought put into the structure of the unit, and the links chosen are there to demonstrate and support the learning for the lesson. I have been so happy with this unit that I am planning on using Intellgo next year for all of Decca’s science and social studies.

In addition to the Intellego unit Decca is reading Dolphin Adventure and Seashore, which is another One Small Square book. These are both easy reads, but I find as we head into summer this is all he wants.

Decca is not doing too much else on our summer schedule. He practices piano everyday, works in a few review workbooks, and writes his own stories. He has also discovered Italian Scooby Doo books, and he received his first book in the mail this week. This has led to a new summer project which I have labeled, “The Great Google Translation Project – Summer 2012” which I have nicknamed “Another Horrible Project That I has Been Sucked Into”. Basically he wants to translate all the Scooby Doo Italian books that he gets. He said he would do this himself, and to his credit he has worked on it everyday, but he is a s-l-o-w typer, so I have stepped in to help him along. It has not been fun, especially because the translations are a little weird (Fred is very angry through most of the book, and he cusses quite often), and I am translating from Italian to English, and then from English to Scooby Doo lingo. I am not sure how many books we will end up doing, but I am hoping he looses interest in these fairly quickly.

Grandma taking Autry to her last Classical Voice concert of the year.

Autry had her last week in conservatory this week. She is off until September, and although she was very sad to see it end, I was very happy. I am amazed at all she has learned in one year at OCHSA, and I love how close everyone in her conservatory has become, but I am tired. Tired of all the driving, tired of the rehearsals and concerts, and tired of the late nights. I am looking forward to her second year, and I can’t wait to see all that she learns next year, but I am so thankful for the break. It came just in time!

Here is a short clip from the season ending song. It was great to hear the whole conservatory sing as one choir.

This last Friday Autry and I went to the Great Homeschool Conference in Long Beach. I was considering not going because of the controversy surrounding the group that sponsors the conference (if you would like to read about this click through to this thread from  the WTM), but I decided to go because I wanted to her some of the speakers, and I wanted to peruse the vendor hall. Autry wanted to go with because she loves to hear about homeschooling, as a formally homeschooled kid, and she wanted to meet Susan Wise Bauer.

We spent just one day at the conference, and we listened to several talks given by Susan Wise Bauer, and between those talks we perused the vendor hall and went out to eat for lunch. It was great to spend a day with just my daughter, and I was so happy to see how enthusiastic for homeschooling Autry was. She loved hearing Susan Wise Bauer speak, and when we left one particularly good talk on literature, Autry proclaimed that she was going to homeschool all her children. She also got to meet Susan Wise Bauer, and she got her autograph on The History of the Medieval World. It was a great day!

Weekly Update

We are on a very relaxed schedule now, and we will probably be on this schedule through July. We do this every year, and it works out for all of us. By May the kids, and truthfully I, are all burned out and ready for a break. I pull way back on what I expect from them, and they spend most of their time doing what they want.

This doesn’t mean that we stop all academic work. Tru is still working through his algebra, as he wants to have this done by next September. He is also reading Shakespeare and keeping up with his French (Rosetta Stone) and history. He plays golf 3 to 4 times a week.

In his room working.

Decca is working on Dreambox math, and he is reading everyday. He is also keeping up with his piano.

In addition he is working on his Scooby Doo story that he is writing, and my mom is illustrating. He takes this very seriously and is on page 33 right now. He hopes to have it finished by June.

The cover of Decca’s Scooby book

With all this free time what have the boys and I been up to? Well we have been swimming nearly every day this week. It has been so nice out, and we felt we had to take advantage of this wonderful weather by being outside.

We have been going on many walks enjoying the nature all around us.

The boys have been working on their Scratch projects, and they both are excited about Scratch 2.0 coming out.

Tru’s latest Scratch project

The changes to Scratch look amazing, and if you haven’t downloaded Scratch for your kids yet, now would be a good time. Here is a video explaining the new version.

Autry was very busy last week with school. She had a concert and a competition. She did an amazing job in both, and she was so happy to find out this week that she has passed the first round in the Southern California Junior Bach Festival, and she will be competing in the second round in September.

Arriving for rehearsals for the Bach Competition.

She sang her songs in English for the first round, but I think she will have to learn them in German for the next round. She is happy that she has all summer to work on them.

Picking up Autry from school on Thursday.

School seems to be winding down for her too, which works nice with our schedule. She only has two more weeks of conservatory and four weeks of academics. Homework is very minimal right now because most of the kids at OCHSA are busy with concerts and shows, and this is great. Autry has been able to come home from school and just relax with the rest of us. In her down time she has been working on writing songs and drawing comics.

Autry’s song Ode to Purple

A comic Autry has been working on this week.

And that is our week in review.

Weekly Update Through Pictures

I thought it would be fun to do a weekly update through pictures only. Right? Isn’t this fun?

Actually the truth is that I am feeling kind of lazy today, and I just don’t want to write out a long weekly update. So this is not only fun, but also very convenient for me. Yeah!

I can tell already that this is going to be a very random post with very random photos. The one above is of my daughter’s llama friend.  He has recently grown a mustache, and I for one like the new look.

Now to get down to business. What has been going on here lately? Well we had a wonderful storm a week or so ago. I loved it because it was truly a downpour, something that is very rare here in Southern California.

My brother Jesse came out to visit us for a few days. We all had fun spending time with him, but I think Decca and Kingsley enjoyed the visit the most.

I caught Decca working on a new composition on the piano. I love when he sits down at the piano for an hour or so and experiments with sound and rhythm.

And just because I know everyone is dying to hear another song that Decca has been working on here is Worlds are Dying Stars are Crying.

Speaking of music Autry has a concert and a competition next weekend. She has been working hard preparing for both. I hope I am able to get a recording of her songs to post on here next week. In the meantime here is a clip of her and her fellow classmates working on Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

Autry has also been on a Harry Potter kick ever since she signed up for Pottermore, so she created a paper version of getting into Hogwarts. Here is a page where you get to pick your animal. The choices are so cute.

I would have to choose the awkward owl for no reason other than to see the awkwardness.

Now that I have read back through this post I am worried about the possibility of any grandparents and/or other relatives reading this and wondering whether or not the kids have done any real schooling this week. To alleviate those fears I feel the need to state that yes they have done some school this week.

Tru began reading and studying Romeo and Juliet.

And Decca read two books of Scooby-Doo.

We started back up on our study of film history. I put this on hold for a long time because I lost the book we are using as a spine, but I am happy to report that it has been located and our study is going forward. Hopefully by the end of summer the whole study will be completed and uploaded onto my blog.

Also this week I was lucky enough to spend some one-on-one time with a great kid. I snapped this picture of him while we were driving around on errands.

I also snapped this picture of Kingsley in the car with me. The kids and I took him to In-N-Out, which he loved.

And that is our (very strange) week in review.

Weekly Update

I thought it would be nice to concentrate on my daughter this week. Autry is still going strong at the Orange County High School of the Arts. She is finishing up her first year in Classical Voice, and I am so proud of her.

This week Autry had her juries to see how far she has come this year. She was nervous about this, but I wasn’t at all. (She is honestly a wonderful singer, and she has matured so much vocally over the past nine months that I was just not worried.) Anyway I picked her up at school after her jury, and she had the biggest smile on her face. Her teacher and the director of classical voice gave her very positive feedback, and Autry was so darn happy. They told her she was born to be a singer, and I couldn’t agree more!

So now that juries are over, she is practicing for her next concert and a Bach competition, both of which are in the first week of May. She has four songs that she will be singing between the concert and the competition, so she is working hard on those songs. She will be singing 3 solos and 1 quartet, and she is having a good time working on all the songs. I like the classical voice program at OCHSA because the kids are always working on songs for a concert. It is important for the kids to have opportunities to perform what they are learning. I think it motivates them.

I wish I had a video of the song she sang at juries, but I don’t. Instead here is a short video of Autry and her friend at school singing Yonder Come Day. It is one of my favorite songs.

OCHSA is a great school not only because of the art programs, but also because of the academics. One of the strengths of the school is that most of the teachers are aware that they are working with creative kids who learn in different ways, and the teachers allow for the students differences and strengths. For instance Autry had a math assignment where she had to design a mall using a scale drawing. The purpose of the assignment was to get the kids working in scale and to have them practice their geometry skills. Autry had so much fun with this project because she got to be creative and along the way she learned a good deal.

Here is the assignment:

And here is her finished project:

And here are the measurements:

In other news Autry sent me this photo she edited. I thought it was quite funny!

And here is a drawing she has been working on forever. She pulled it out this week and re-did it with color.

Also this week we have all been on a Pottermore kick. Getting sorted was the best thing about the site, and we all couldn’t wait to see what house we got into. It seems that no one was happy with their placement. Tru and Decca were placed in Hufflepuff (Tru couldn’t believe it), and Autry and I in Gryffindor (Autry wanted Ravenclaw).  Ah well, at least no one got placed in Slytherin, although I think they would have all been much happier if they were.

My Hufflepuff and Gryffindor hanging out together.

And that is our week in review.

Weekly Update – Spotlight on my Youngest

This week we have moved on to Africa to study animals. Decca read One Small Square African Savanna, Akimbo and the Crocodile Man, and Akimbo and the Snakes.

We have had Akimbo and the Crocodile Man on our shelves for a long time, and Decca never wanted to read it. He thought it looked boring and too young for him. I finally convinced Decca to read it as part of our study this week, and he loved it. On Wednesday I ordered Akimbo and the Snakes for him, and I think I will order the rest in the series for next week. I love when the kids discover a series of books that they love and can’t wait to read. It is one of the joys of homeschooling.

Akimbo and the Snakes is about Akimbo’s visit to his uncle’s snake farm. In it the uncle milks two cobra snakes for Akimbo to see. Decca was very interested in this so we spent some time on YouTube watching videos of snakes being milked.

Decca researched various animals of Africa this week. His favorite was the warthog, which seemed an unlikely candidate to me, but what do I know. I am not an 8-year-old boy, and I do not pretend to understand the inner workings of their minds. 🙂

Decca also continued working through Beast Academy this week. He is working on skip counting and hundred charts. I am constantly amazed at how high the thinking skills are in this book. Anyone who might be worried that their older child might not be challenged by these books are probably in for a pleasant surprise. The workbook questions get very hard very quickly and require a good amount of figuring out. This sometimes frustrates Decca to no end, but when he finally figures out a problem he is very proud of his accomplishment.

Decca also composed several songs in piano this week. Most of his songs that he works on he does not write them out, as it would be too difficult for him at this stage. He composes much more complicated songs than he would be able to write out. For these songs I record him playing, and he takes them into his teacher, and she gives him feedback. However he did attempt to write some songs this week for beginning piano players because he thinks it would be so awesome if he made his own piano books for others. His first song is called Ride.

And just because we cannot possibly go a week without doing something Scooby related (as my son is very obsessed with Scooby) Decca and I created a bar graph of his Scooby Doo books to see what author wrote the most books in his collection.

And that is our week in review.