Are we really three weeks into our new school year? Yes, and thank goodness, because some of the kinks are starting to work themselves out, as I would expect by week three. We are getting into a rhythm at last during the day. I don’t exactly find the work load to be any less for me after the kiddos go to bed, but that may be more a function of my personality than necessity. As Bill often says, I might benefit every once in awhile if I took a moment to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere every once in awhile and just sit down/relax/stop working.

Like that’s likely.  😉 I am a Matics by birth… Work is our hobby. I thank goodness for my morning runs, which are definitely my moments to unwind, plan my life, meditate, and just be all filled up in the warm embrace of introvert-alone time. My music, the sunrise, the cool morning air waking me up, any stress worked out through my legs… When I come home sweaty, I know I am mentally ready to face my workday.

The good news is that the blending of Katie’s and Eric’s curricula is getting easier. Because we did “unofficial” preschool years with Katie before starting with River Springs, I have preschool units and lessons already designed that I can re-use with Eric. I am covering some familiar territory, so that helps. Additionally, there are ways to break down what she is doing and make assignments that he can do also. They can both be doing plant bio, for example, and Katie can be using ideas out of her first grade text (I am extremely focused on teaching her academic language/vocabulary in all disciplines this year), and I can have Eric jump in with apple tree bio (which Katie and I have done before and for which I have materials). They work separately on English (except for Five in a Row) and math, for the most part. History and science are our big crossover points. We’re always working the themes to our advantage.



Apple tree math: gluing on apples and counting them.



One of our Montessori trays this week: lid and jar matching. Katie used to love this one, too, back in the day!



Bb for butterfly this week!


A fun morning snack on our first “Bb for butterfly” day! They asked for it again on Tuesday, also!




Morning snack (usually 10 AM or so). The awesome thing about Bb for butterfly is that, of course, we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar again to go with it. It’s old hat for Katie, but we were able to pull out the examples of exclamation points (part of her English standards this week) as well as the butterfly life cycle (part of her science text in chapter 1 and part of her test later this week) and focus on those elements for her. I love it when things come together. 😉


“Bb for butterfly” out of his handprints

Annual McGaugh Family Apple Tasting lab:






We had never tasted the Envy or Sweet Tango varieties before!







Katie got to start choir again last Monday! She loves Regina so much, and she is feeling so comfortable with our homeschool friends that—at last!!!—she has taken the mature step of attending the class without me sitting nearby. This is a FIRST, and I couldn’t ask for a nicer person than Regina to be part of this momentous step for Katie. If Katie can do this, then doors will open for us to have her take other enrichment classes as her confidence increases. I told Katie as this year started that, if she wanted to do choir, then she would HAVE to do it without me in the house this go-round. Eric is not napping much anymore, and he is so good about sharing time with his sister that we cannot ask him to stay at home and miss out on yet another hour when I could be doing something just with him. Katie seemed to understand this. Eric and I walked around the area of Regina’s house for an hour, and I cherished my one-on-one time with him. We so rarely get to be just by ourselves. I love the three of us together, don’t get me wrong, but Katie had so much one-on-one time before her brother was born. I need those moments with my kiddos when I am just concentrating on each of them individually. Eric and I explored all over and had such a great conversation. Win-win for everyone!

On Tuesday we took a huge break around snack time because the night before, as I was tucking him into bed, Eric was telling me how much he wanted us all to play Play-Doh. So we did:



I love that Katie is around home to still do those “little kiddo” types of things.


Katie’s first official science test… 100%!! Wahoo! She has been studying animal biology, with a huge section on animal classification. She really had to know her stuff.


Sometimes I have all kinds of neat activities ready for Eric at our school table and he begs me instead to play cars. All too often I put him off until later, after I finish guiding Katie through a lesson… Well, this week, we brought the learning to him with a cardboard box parking lot. He had to drive his cars into the numbers I called out. And he thought we were just playing. 😉



Magnetic sorting lab. This horseshoe magnet was IT on the day I gave it to him. He finished his sorting baskets (magnetic/nonmagnetic) then spent most of the day off and on testing just about everything else in the house.



Katie is now working on plant bio for science. We were able to do a flower-labelling craft together.



Eric and I have been working on various juices this week. This spinach-parsley-pear-celery-lemon juice was his favorite. I really liked the red cabbage-blueberry-apple juice also.


We finished one FIAR book (Three Names, about a one-room schoolhouse on the prairie) and started a new one (The Giraffe That Walked to Paris) this week. One highlight of ending Three Names was teaching the kiddos how to play marbles, like some of the characters do in the book. No one—not me, not Bill, not Amie, not Boppa, not Eric—can currently beat Katie at marbles. And we’re trying! She is amazing at marbles! Who knew?? We played again this afternoon, and I ended up with seven marbles and she had eighteen. What?!? Suffice it to say, marbles is her new favorite game.




Eric was delighted to get a marble on one of his turns! He is hugging it here.



We took a day to visit Nana this week. Katie is showing Nana her current mystery book, which she is reading with Amie. Amie reads to Katie in the car whenever we go to Orange County for any reason. Katie and I have also been reading from the “Who Was…?” series of historical biographies at night after I tuck Eric in and in the morning after I run and before Eric wakes up. These books are about 100 pages long, and we’ve finished Annie Oakley, Amelia Earhart, Walt Disney, Ferdinand Magellan, and Harry Houdini in the past three weeks. We have a few more but are now taking a break from them because Katie wants to read the original Carlo Collodi version of Pinocchio. We are always reading. It is really the backbone of everything we do here, and it allows us to hang our textbook topics onto things we already know about from our children’s stories and chapter books.


Eric brought his friend Peter Pan to Nana’s house.

As part of our studies of Egypt with The Giraffe That Walked to Paris (a nonfiction piece), Katie did a pyramid excavation project to uncover artifacts. The model pyramid was based on the Pyramid of Cheops (Khufu), but it had a sarcophagus that was really more Tutankhamun-esque, so some liberties were taken in the design, clearly. She had a great time! I had had this project tucked away for some time, waiting until we were back in the Egypt mood (Egypt history has been a passion of hers since age three, though she has phases where it is more on her mind than at other times. She decided last month to be Cleopatra for Halloween this year, and with our current FIAR book, the Egypt love is really big right now for her.



First she had to decipher four lines worth of hieroglyphs to figure out where to start chiseling to find the hidden unlocking mechanism. Each hieroglyph corresponded to a letter of the alphabet.


Getting ready to unlock the pyramid top…


Scraping and dusting away the sand to reveal the first artifact. Of course we had Walk Like an Egyptian playing at this time, as well as other appropriately themed 80s songs (Toto’s Africa, etc).




Letting her brother have a turn…


Delighted to find a mummy inside the first artifact, as well as a death mask! Then it was onward to the canopic jars!


Katie’s soccer game at 11:15 this week was H-O-T! But gosh we do love it!



Back at play with her pyramid…She reburied some of the artifacts and wanted to do it again. Eric, meanwhile, was working on our watercolor-oil pastel resist leaf art project (plant bio for the next two weeks)!


Adding salt to the watercolor project for texturing effect.




Before starting her watercolor-oil pastel resist project, Katie got an additional science lesson in how and why that works. She poured oil and then water into a container to see what happens. We tied this into practical life, as well, as we discussed why roads are so dangerous right after the first drops of rain.



This little boy is full of ideas this week. He decided he wanted to make a real-life mousetrap and has talked about it now for a couple of days (ever since we found a mouse nest in our backyard). He had a whole list of parts he thought he needed (bowl, chain, crank, wrench, screwdriver, fork, etc). What goes on in this boy’s mind is possibly beyond me, since I never thought of building a mousetrap or any kind of device at age three. He’s been a little spooky that way this week, I have to say. On Friday he was telling me that one of the marbles was “Earth in my pocket” and that “here was Indiana, and L.A., and Hawaii.” We have astronomy posters upstairs and are always talking about the planets (plus, I guess, what he is absorbing from Katie’s history lessons this week). He told me that we all lived on his marble, including aunts and uncles. I’m like, that’s pretty cool buddy! Anyway, since he wanted to build a mousetrap, I put Boppa on the case. Boppa is a natural-born tinkerer and knows how to invent in his mind, too. I was absolutely stymied about a big crank, but Boppa came up with the idea of making one out of PVC pipes. He brought them over today, and work on the mousetrap officially commenced. In this picture, Eric is screwing the pipes together to make his crank.

We are still doing all four core subjects everyday, though Bill has suggested that I alternate formal instruction in history and science every other day to free up some more time during the afternoon. I might do this, since we seem to be progressing through everything. I guess that is to say, in the next two weeks I think I will still be fine tuning what we do here! Unbelievably, our first progress report period/learning plan period is coming to a close fairly soon!