Our Homeschool: What We’re Using This Year

Josh & Andy watching Jack work on his Spanish lessons.

Josh & Andy watching Jack work on his Spanish lessons.

I saw another mom write a post about what curriculum she was using this year for each of her kids. Her post was a sponsored post so she was getting a little something from at least some of the companies she mentioned. I thought it be fun to write a similar post, both for the sake of my weak memory and just in case you’re curious what we do during our class time. No sponsorship or endorsements here – just the products I chose to use after lots of research and weighing what I know about how my children learn best and how I teach best. I’d love to say I’ll write a post about why I chose each of these products, but we all know how well I follow through on promises like that. So, for now, here are the products and curriculum we are currently using:

ANDY (3rd grade):

Teacher Lead Courses:

Spelling: All About Spelling

Latin: Prima Latina: Intro to Christian Latin

Memory Work: CCM – a classical memory work program that covers 8 subject areas: Religion, Latin, History, Science, Math, Timeline, Geography, and Great Words.

Andy holding Soph while he puts his vocab words in ABC order. He likes to hold her to break up the monotony of tedious activities.

Andy holding Soph while he puts his vocab words in ABC order. He likes to hold her to break up the monotony of tedious activities.


English: English 3, Seton Press

Vocabulary: Vocabulary 3, Seton Press

Reading Comprehension: Reading 3, Seton Press

Reading: Faith and Freedom Readers and anything that piques his interest. We read a lot during the day. We also have family story time before bed, during which Josh reads from a chapter book to the family. Currently, we’re reading the Narnia series. We’re almost finished – we’re about halfway through the Voyage of the Dawn Treader – so it’s about time to start thinking about what we will read next.

Maps, Charts, Graphs Level C

Handwriting: Catholic Heritage Handwriting: Level 3

Manners & Health

Computer lessons/programs:

Spanish: Rosetta Stone, Homeschool Edition

Math: Teaching Textbooks

Catechism: Faith and Life, Online Edition

Jack (2nd grade):

Teacher Lead Courses:

Spelling: All About Spelling

Latin: Prima Latina: Intro to Christian Latin

Memory Work: CCM – a classical memory work program that covers 8 subject areas: Religion, Latin, History, Science, Math, Timeline, Geography, and Great Words.

Jack showing off a picture he drew.

Jack showing off a picture he drew.

Sacrament Preparation: First Communion Catechism, New Catholic Picture Bible

Building Good Character: God Made Me to be Part of a Family


Math: Math 2, Seton Press

English: English 2, Seton Press

Reading: Faith and Freedom Readers and anything that piques his interest. We read a lot during the day. We also have family story time before bed, during which Josh reads from a chapter book to the family. Currently, we’re reading the Narnia series. We’re almost finished – we’re about halfway through the Voyage of the Dawn Treader – so it’s about time to start thinking about what we will read next.

Maps, Charts, Graphs Level B

Handwriting: Catholic Heritage Handwriting: Level 3

Catechism: Religion 2, Seton Press

Computer lessons/programs:

Spanish: Rosetta Stone, Homeschool Edition

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Ben playing with the magnet set.

Ben: (pre-k)

Miscellaneous letter and number coloring sheets printed from the internet.

Any story he wants to hear.


Preschool Prep DVDs

The Real Mother Goose

God’s Rules for Me

Lots of puzzles, manipulatives, and other educational toys of the “Melissa & Doug” variety.

We’re also participating in two co-ops this year. The primary co-op uses the CCM material. Each week at co-op, the kids get a good introduction to the memory work for all 8 subjects, then we practice the memory work at home all week. They’ll also take an extra science class and an art class there.

Our second co-op is much more casual. Our primary purpose is allowing our kiddos to form faith-based friendships from a young age. The kiddos learn about virtues, memorize prayers, and have a lesson pertinent to where we are in the liturgical year. Then, they have lunch and play. I don’t know if the founder would appreciate this simplistic description, but it’s kind of like youth group for elementary kids.

So there you have it – a glimpse at our formal lessons for the year. It’s not uncommon that we’ll put everything on hold and wander off on some tangent, sometimes for a morning or sometimes for several weeks, but that’s the beauty of schooling year round. We have ample time to tackle all of the formal lessons listed above, but without feeling so much pressure that we can’t follow a whim to dig into a subject that we weren’t planning on covering. I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again, I LOVE homeschooling!



D is for Dress

Every day in April, I’m blogging about Adjusting to Life with Baby Number 5.

Click here to see all the posts in this series.

P1070745Last Saturday we had our sweet Sophia baptized. It was so beautiful and such and amazing day! Almost as beautiful as the rite itself was the GORGEOUS dress my sweet girl got to wear.

Her godmother bought her a gown and it is simply EXQUISITE! Seriously, it is prettier than my wedding gown. Her godmother found an amazing woman on etsy that made her dress by hand!

I’ve never seen a prettier dress in my whole life. It’s a traditional baptismal gown, so it’s incredibly long, and, with all the layers, it’s quite heavy. I joked that the gown is heavier than the baby. It really might be.

When her godmother brought the gown over to me, I was blown away. I knew she was getting a gown, and I knew it would be lovely, but I had no idea it would be this grand. I told her it was way too much, but Tammy said she wanted something heirloom quality. She said, “I wanted something she could pass on to her daughters. And if she has a religious vocation, we’ll just find a way to sew it into her habit.” I was all teary-eyed at the thought.

2014-04-03 20.15.24I’m going to take the dress back to Tammy and she’s going to stitch Sophie’s name and baptismal date into the gown. Then, if Sophie is blessed with daughters and granddaughters, they can be baptized in the same gown, and their names and dates can also be stitched in. What an amazing gift!

I didn’t get any great pictures of Sophie in her dress on her big day. I keep meaning to put it back on her and pose her for a few shots. Maybe I’ll finally get around to that today. These pictures don’t quite do it justice. You can tell it’s lovely, but it is simply breathtaking in person.

Obviously, the dress wasn’t the most important part of the day, but it did make the day a little more special. Especially when I thought about the possibility of seeing my grandbabies being baptized in that gown…or seeing my girl take vows, knowing there are pieces of her baptismal gown hiding under her habit.

A is for Anxiety

Every day for the month of April, I’m blogging about Adjusting to Life with Baby Number 5. This is the first post in said series

sound-of-music-andrews_lWhen I originally decided what I wanted to write about each day of this challenge, I thought I’d write my “A” post about how awesome a baby is. Not as in the everyday, overused connotation of awesome, rather,  in the true meaning of the word. I was going to write about babies being “awe-inspsiring.”  But, I touched on that the other day. Aside from that, the first moments, and even days and weeks after, I found out about our sweet Sophia weren’t exactly awe-inspiring. They were somewhat panic-filled. And, as they say, it’s best to start at the very beginning. Because of that, like my title says, A is for Anxiety.

Sophie was somewhat of a surprise. When we got pregnant with her, I had just completed my second year of grad school in a three year program. I was working in a really bad, borderline abusive work environment. AND we had a 7 month old, not to mention 3 other kids, whom, by the way, I homeschool. Life was more than busy. A new baby was not on my radar. Yet here she was. There was definitely a pink plus sign on that white stick.

I had no idea how I was going to juggle everything plus newborn.

I felt bad for our little Leila, who wasn’t going to get to be the baby for as long as she “should have” been.

More than anything, I had no idea how this new baby was going to get out of me short of some alien osmosis procedure because I had pretty much decided I was never, ever going through labor and delivery again. (I had a really bad experience with Leila’s L&D and I was no where near emotionally recovered.)

My head and heart swarmed with all the reasons I shouldn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t have another child. Especially not right now. But I looked back down at the stick. It didn’t seem to care about any of that because it said I was going to have another child. A couple weeks later, my doctor officially confirmed it. Despite all my reasons why this shouldn’t be happening, it was. I had a sonogram picture in my hand of my little 4 week old baby. We had become a family of 7.


SST # 6: Looking for our New Groove

Small-Success-Thursday-550x330Our sweet Sophia has been here for 3.5 weeks now. She is so perfectly amazing! But having a new person in the house, especially a demanding newborn type that doesn’t sleep very much, throws everything off. I like to imagine that my household normally runs like a well oiled machine. (I have a very active imagination.) But, thanks to our sweet little one, everything that used to run so “smoothly” has gone up in smoke. I don’t say that with any resentment or ill-feelings. Everything is exactly as it should be. Our life as a family of 6 no longer exists, so it only makes sense that there will be an adjustment period while we learn how to function as a family of seven. Before long, everything will be running along “smoothly” again. In the meantime it’s up-and-down and trial-and-error until we figure this thing out. This week I caught a few glimpses of our new life as a family of 7 falling into place. Those glimpses are my small successes of the week.

1. Date night with my hubby! Yes, it’s true! Our sitter was already in the habit of coming over on Monday nights for our childbirth class, so we decided to keep the routine going. We’re planning to have her over every other week for a real date night. I’m so excited! We spent our night out hitting up Costco for food for Soph’s baptism reception and then had an absolutely fantastic dinner at Bonefish Grill. Bonus points because Josh won a gift card for Bonefish at work. I think we spent around $20 for a fantastic evening. And Sophie was so good! I carried her in my fabulous Gemini baby carrier and she barely made a peep. Extra bonus points because I got to enjoy sweet snuggles and baby bonding simultaneously with my date night.

2. I got up with the kids. Since I’m awake quite a bit during the night with the babe, I’ve been sleeping in most mornings. But, one day this week, I was up with the kids at 6 AM. It made for a super smooth-sailing day and got me super excited about failing back into a routine. Granted, it only happened one day, but, like I said, these are just glimpses of what life will be like when we find our new groove.

2014-03-26 12.57.213. Andy learned to change a diaper! My sweet 8-year-old asked if he could learn to change diapers. At first I said no. He asked a few more times, and I finally decided that I need to take help where I can get it. So I taught him. And he did great! I’ve only let him change the 16-month-old. And only wet diapers, not dirty. But he is so proud of himself. And I’m very grateful for the help!

4. I ran an errand BY MYSELF with all the kiddos. I had to go turn in some paperwork at the church and return a casserole dish to one of the guys who works there, so I loaded up all the kiddos and we went. This is a really big deal for me. It usually takes nothing short of an act of God to get me out of the house for the first time when we add a new family member. Not knowing how to juggle them all in public really overwhelms me. But I did it! Well…sort of. We only went up to the Church, which isn’t exactly “public.” (Everyone who’s there during the day knows me.) And it’s only 5 minutes from my house. And only Ben, Sophie, and I got out of the car. And it was a quick errand, so there wasn’t much time for anyone to melt down or anything. But, hey, I put them all in the car and went somewhere BY MYSELF and that counts for something.

So there you have it. My small successes for the week. What are yours? Share them over at CatholicMom.com!

SST # 5: Thank You, Grazie, Merci BEAUCOUP!!

Small-Success-Thursday-550x330On March 1 we welcomed our precious daughter into the world. It goes without saying that it was an incredibly joyous day and the days since have been full of moments of perfect beauty. There’s something about looking into the face of a newborn, especially one sleeping on your chest, happily drunk from having consumed her fill of milk…I don’t know the words for it. It’s almost as if you catch a glimpse of eternity. She embodies peace and happiness. Total dependency, yet complete autonomy. Immortality encapsulated in a fragile human body. All of time and the meaning of existence shines forth from that innocent little person. It’s incredible!

Because of the gift of new life in our house, I feel like every moment is a great big success. Granted, some moments are sleep deprived and some moments are a juggling act as I adjust to being a mommy of 5, but, overall, holding that precious gift that we named Sophie eclipses any of the struggles that come with being a new parent. Since I’m floating on cloud nine, I thought I’d dedicate this entry to all the people for whom I’m incredibly grateful. I won’t be detailing any of my own small successes, rather I want to thank and acknowledge all the people who have been such a gift as we have transitioned into life as a family of 7. (Brace yourself, this entry is a little long.)


Sophie. 1 day old.

1. My husband, my fabulous labor & delivery nurse, Wendi & Kevin O’Brien, the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth, and St. Colette. Sophie’s birth day was simply beautiful thanks to this incredible team of people. After 5 deliveries, 2 of which were all natural, I feel like I have some good notes for comparison about what to expect on “D-Day.” This was, without a doubt, my best delivery ever, despite it being my second longest. Wendi and Kevin are great instructors and prepared me, and, most importantly, my husband well for the big day. Despite this being baby number 5, there is a lot to learn if you want to have a successful peaceful natural birth, especially in a hospital setting. I keep meaning to write a whole post about all the reasons why I am in love with Dr. Bradley and so very grateful for his books and our fabulous instructors, but today is not that day. Suffice it to say, I am so very grateful for them! My L&D nurse, who was also incredible in so many ways and so very supportive of our desire to birth naturally, said that she had never witnessed a natural birth go as smoothly as mine  in her 19 years of delivering babies. That is completely thanks to the Bradley Method and my husband’s fidelity to assuming his role as coach. He did a phenomenal job, and I truly could not have gotten through without him! My husband is THE reason that I was calm, cool, and collected throughout my entire labor, but especially during the hours we spent laboring at the hospital.

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Josh and Soph, 2 hours old

Above all, I have to credit St. Colette, my sweet daughter’s patroness (Colette is her middle name) and the patroness of expectant mommies. After our last less-than-stellar birth experience, I was quite nervous about this one. I spent a lot of time begging her to help me out on D-DAY. And she did. I don’t believe in coincidences, so I fully credit her with our awesome nurse (Who was called in on her day off because L&D was swamped. And who sacrificed her daughter’s volleyball game to answer that call and come in to work. And who was weirdly connected to us in a strange 6 degrees of separation type way.) and with the fact that we got THE LAST L&D room (had we arrived any later, we would have been laboring and delivering in a busy triage room) and with the fact that a new mommy room just happened to open up for us, despite the fact that we weren’t supposed to get one because they were all full. Thank you, St. Colette, for interceding on my behalf!           

2. My husband. (yes, I already thanked him, but this is for a different reason.) Josh works for an incredible company. One of their many benefits is that fathers get a two week paternity leave after the birth or adoption of a new baby. This leave is granted ON TOP of any existing vacation. While I think our growing family may make them question this lovely policy, we are so grateful it exists. Josh was home with me for the last two weeks and he did a stellar job keeping the house running. I was blown away! He even kept up with the kids’ school work, so we weren’t behind at all when he went back to work. He cooked and cleaned and cared for all 4 of the other kiddos. All I had to do those first two weeks was sleep, eat, and snuggle my sweet Sophie. It was amazing!

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One of the beautiful meals we received.

3. Kate and all the people who signed up on the Care Calendar. My sweet friend Kate made a Care Calendar  for people to sign up to bring us meals. It started on Tuesday when Josh went back to work and is still filling up with our incredibly generous friends and acquaintances from Church and our homeschooling coop. I can’t begin to say how grateful I am not to have to worry about dinner. These first few days alone with the kiddos have been challenging, so it is such a gift to just have to open the door and say thank you before having a beautiful, home-cooked meal on the table. And let me tell you, these women can cook. Everything has been so delicious! On top of being generous enough to make us dinner, these women have even been kind enough to adhere to our new dietary standards. These women have their own large families and struggles and pregnancies and whatever else to deal with, yet they took the time from their hectic lives to make us dinner. I am so grateful to them all for their incredible generosity!

Kate also took my older boys to coop last week which was a gift for them, Josh, and me. They were bummed about the prospect of missing coop, but, thanks to her, they didn’t have to. Josh had been wrangling the four older kiddos by himself for several days at that point, so I’m sure he was grateful to have his duties cut in half. And I was super grateful for how quite the house was while they were gone. Thanks again to my dear friend! You are such an amazing gift!

So that’s it for me. I’d apologize for this post being so long, except for even this doesn’t fully express my gratitude to these individuals. What about you? What are your successes this week? Link up over at Catholicmom.com

Small Success Thursday Volume 1: Longing for Communion and the Baby List

I really like the idea of blog link ups.* I’ve always thought that I’d like to participate in them, but I’ve never found one that really suits me. One time, I attempted to jump on board with the 7 Quick Takes bandwagon, but the fact is I’m just too long winded for Quick Takes. (And no one wants to read what should be 7 individual blog posts all jumbled into one, which is what my posts inevitably would have become.)


This week, I stumbled across a link up that is so perfect for me I might as well have designed it myself. CatholicMom.com hosts a link up called Small Success Thursdays. I love it! The concept is simple: share at least 3 of your small success from the previous week. This fits in so well with my attempt to write more about our daily life. It also provides me with a deadline and some slight semblance of accountability, both of which are great motivators for me. Obviously, it won’t really matter if I don’t link up on any given week, but knowing that the link up is out there will likely increase my motivation exponentially. Typically, once I’m in the habit of writing about anything, it becomes easier to write about everything, so it will also likely increase my blogging productivity overall.

Truthfully, I blog all the time. You just don’t know about it. Why? Because most of the blogging I do takes place in my head. Usually, it’s in the middle of the night. Or while I’m doing some incredibly tedious chore. I write, proofread, and edit all in my mind. It’s so unfortunate that WordPress doesn’t have an app for that. I’ve “written” some truly stupendous entries. Some of my favorites exist only in my mind. BUT, this is exactly why I’m excited about this link up. I think it will move me out of my current habit of blogging in my mind and into the world of actually blogging on the internet, where there’s a real publish button! So, without further ado, I give you this week’s small successes:

P10701791. I’m starting to feel like we really are integrated members in the community. This isn’t really a personal success, but it’s a big deal to me nonetheless. We live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. That means if you venture much further than your backyard, you instantly become an anonymous anyone, rather than an actual someone. On Saturday, we did a lot of running around in various areas, and we ran into some kind of acquaintance at every location. At Jack’s basketball game in Ft. Worth, we saw one of Josh’s former employees. His kid was playing on the opposing team. Next, we ran by Wal-Mart for some toiletries and whatnot, and ran into a lady from our church. Later, at Babies-R-Us in Southlake, we saw a guy that works in the same department as Josh. Lastly, at Costco, we saw one of Josh’s current employees. What was really cool is everyone we saw was also with their families. So, whether they noticed it or not, we got to see them as actual someones too. Not just the caricature that we normally see in the environments where we normally encounter them.

So why is this a success in my book? My heart was made for small town living.* I love the idea of tight-knit communities and knowing everyone’s name. I long for true experiences of community. We are very blessed to experience this feeling at our church, but I’d like to be able to experience it out in the world, too. It seems that our family is turning a corner. It seems we’ve finally lived here long enough and are making enough connections where we’re forming a real community around us. For me, this is very exciting!

2. We all went to Mass together on Sunday! This is my goal every week, and, usually, it’s our norm. Unfortunately, someone in our house has been sick every week since sometime in November. This means that I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve been able to attend Mass as a family in the last three months. I hate being separated at Mass, despite our children’s often less than charming behavior, which often leaves me wondering why I didn’t just go by myself. I just feel like the Eucharist is more tangibly the source and summit of our week and our family life when we all get to sit in the pew together, and I love that.* This week, I got to experience it. Hurray!

2014-02-05 20.15.453. I made a pretty big dent in my “baby list.” Right around 34 weeks I started freaking out because it suddenly dawned on me that there was stuff to do to prepare for our little one’s arrival. For some reason I had it in my head that she would just move in and that we were ready for her. Luckily, my sweet husband started asking very practical questions like, “Aren’t we going to need another carseat?” (Currently, Leila is still riding in our infant seat.) That made me realize that, even though we did just go through this process 15 short months ago, there are still a few things to be done. So, I made a list. (Of course!) Then, I panicked because there were several things to do and/or purchase, and I generally need some time to wrap my head around these kind of things. I was convinced that the remaining 6 weeks of my pregnancy was not enough time. Finally, I got to work. In less than a week, the majority of the list has been knocked out, and the remaining items are fairly simple. Looks like I’ll have the next 4.5 weeks to dream about my little one’s arrival completely stress free. (Oh, hush. I’m allowed to fantasize about living stress free if I want.)    

To check out the small successes of other Catholic mamas, or to link up your own small successes, visit the Catholic Mom Blog.


*I could write a theological discourse about how each of these are really just a manifestation of my longing for communion, a God-given desire we all share, but I’ll spare you. Or maybe just save it for another day…