Learning Notes – Week of October 9th

Muahahahaha, I’ve figured out something I can reliably blog ahead of time time and post on Monday. You shall all meet your doom by education notes!


Today was Columbus Day, so we didn’t do school. Himself had the day off from school, and so he was home with the boys, who played Wii and outdoors all day and then went to Cub Scouts in the evening.


Due to an experiment rearrangement, I was unexpectedly at home on Tuesday, and we got a lot of work done.

Right now, David is working his way through Saxon 3. He should be in Saxon 5/4, but when I gave him the Saxon placement test in August, he aced all of the objectives in the Saxon elementary placement, but couldn’t hack the structure of the work that Saxon 5/4 wanted. Plus he still needs multiplication table drill. So I ordered the Saxon 3 workbook, only to discover that it’s a really terrible fit for us. Today, we figured out that if he does 3 pages of work every day, he’ll be done with Saxon 3 by Thanksgiving, and if does 3 pages of work the three day he’s doing his schoolwork at home, he’ll have finished Saxon 3 by Christmas. Then we will try out Beast Academy Level 4 in the new year. I have high hopes of Beast Academy, and it’s more affordable simply by virtue of not having to shill out all $100 at the beginning of the year for the books.

Today I also switched David’s copywork to cursive. His print has improved vastly this year, and so I think it’s time for a new challenge. He’s currently fascinated by the Salve Regina and is copying that in Latin and then in English. Next I think I’ll have him copy Strictly Germproof, because that’s a lot of fun, and also has lots of capitals inside the lines so it requires a little more attention.

We also finally dug into Mapping the World with Art on Tuesday and had our first lesson drawing a map of Mesopotamia. Here is David’s. I’m really proud of his work!

Raphael continues to work on writing his name. He’s getting extremely good at it.


No CCE today, alas. David chugged his way through his morning work and did some independent reading, My Father’s Dragon, and then we read some more of Story of the World. I think we’re finally over the hurdle of Story of the World and he’s beginning to find it interesting. Today we read the story of Odysseus and the formation of the Greek alphabet and about the Olympic games.

As a geography exercise, David drew an overhead map of his bedroom. His first rendition, he attempted to show the objects in 3D, which rather defeated the purpose of an overhead map. I sent him to redo it and he produced a map with all the objects in his room mysteriously small and moved away from the walls. I think we’ll come back to this again next week.


Today was such a disaster. Last night I told David to pick up his schoolwork and put it away. His schoolwork vanishes from the coffee table where it had previously been scattered, and I presume it has all be put away where it belongs. This morning I tell David to check make sure he has all of his necessary schoolwork in his backpack before we leave for speech therapy. I have an experiment today and am dropping them off at my parents immediately after and going in to the lab to work late into the night.

We arrive at speech therapy. David mysteriously does not have this week’s page of grammar, nor does he have his spelling. Nor does he have his math folder, because he typically does whiteboard drill on days I go to work. Nor does he have a book to read. He did have his iPad, and fully intended to play Minecraft for the hour of speech therapy. No dice son. I got onto Project Gutenberg and put Edith Nesbit’s The Book of Dragons on his iPad and told him to start reading.

This is the part of parenting that I hate, deciding punishments. Especially when this is an ADHD/executive function issue and not outright defiance, which makes both arbitrary punishment and natural consequences less effective at actually curbing the behavior. Himself and I finally settled on him not being allowed outside until he had:

  1. located and completed the work he didn’t bring with him
  2. demonstrated that he has put all of his schoolwork away neatly in the the appropriate folders and those folders have been neatly stowed in his backpack.
  3. At least a week worth of supervised picking up and proper stowing of his school work, to help him develop habits that will mitigate the effects of ADHD-ishness.

We’ll see how this goes.

On the plus side, while Raphael’s speech therapy had a rough start this year, he’s now totally in the swing of things, and his speech is really starting to take off. His favorite thing to do now is walk up and say “Mommy, I have good news and bad news…”


We polished of the last bits of the regular weekly work and otherwise had a half holiday because my brother is in town this weekend for his and mom’s birthday celebration.

Today I explained to David what a perfect square is and how it relates to the multiplication table, and we worked out the squares between 1 and 100. I love it when we get into the fun bits of math. I need to get my big multiplication table printed and laminated so we can do some fun stuff!

We did have to take a break from family visiting to go to our first Cub Scout den meeting, but I left Raphael with my parents and just took David and the baby. Raphael played a round of The Dinosaur Game with Big Daddy and his uncle. He’s getting very competent at counting and understanding the rules and mechanics of the game.

At Cub Scouts, we started working on the Cast Iron Chef adventure. Recipes were distributed for dutch oven cooking at the next den meeting, and a competition was arranged to see who could bring their recipe in the most under their budgets of $15.

Also, I discovered that some people put hot dogs in red beans and rice because they don’t think kids will appreciate Andouille sausage. Nuts to that, sez I!

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What’s For Dinner? Vol. 3 – Broken Grinders, Hearts, Sauces…

Beef Stroganoff

I use the Pioneer Woman recipe, but I use ground beef, because I can usually find big packs for 25% off, and this way it becomes an reasonably economical dinner. I also don’t put the carrots in, because it’s weird to have carrots in it.

I served this over egg noodles with roasted butternut squash. Yum.

My neighbor sat in my kitchen and watched me cook this in astonishment that I put this much work into something, and I tried to explain that I only put this much work into a large batch of food that would be providing lunches to take to work throughout the week, and the things I cook during the week are much less work intensive.

She didn’t buy it. But it’s still true!



Garlic Chicken, Homemade Bread, Salad

I made this garlic chicken again at David’s special request. David, however, did not appear for dinner – he had been invited to spend the night at a friend’s and elected to eat dinner with them. *sigh*

I love this recipe, but I cannot get this sauce to not break on me. It breaks my heart. And, as I said, my sauce.

I also made dessert this week! Pineapple upside down cake, in the same cast iron skillet my grandmother used to use!


Himself had the day off, but there was a Cub Scout meeting. We had hamburgers, quick & easy baked beans, and my grandmother’s cabbage salad recipe.

This day saw the death of my beloved Kuhn Rikon ratcheting pepper grinder. RIP, my friend. You will never be forgotten. Replaced, sure. Forgotten, no.

Seriously, ever have a recipe specify ‘1 tsp of freshly ground pepper’ and think ‘who has time to twist the top of a pepper grinder for five minutes??’ These ratcheting grinders make short work of that, and let you have fresh ground pepper to boot.

I actually have two of these, but one is devoted exclusively to grinding mahleb for Easter.


More roasted cabbage, kielbasa, and potatoes. This is probably going to become a weekly staple.


Hummus, pita, and crudites. I have the best hummus recipe and it’s delicious and easy and very filling.

Julian, however, did not want to let me eat. I took him upstairs to put him down to sleep, but he wouldn’t do that either. Then Raphael demanded we say Compline. So we said Compline and I finally went over to eat only to discover the children ate all the pita I had warmed up. I had to warm up more.

If they would just eat the hummus too, they wouldn’t eat all my pita!


My work week was rescheduled to allow for me to do a specific primary cell culture isolation. So, I got up, took the boys to Raphael’s speech therapy, dropped them at my parents, stopped at Chick Fil A for a free sandwich around 11am, and went straight in to work. I got home at 9pm and had a couple of breakfast tacos. I’m not sure what anyone else ate, because the two big boys were asleep by the time I got home.


Dinner was at my mom’s house because of family birthdays. Huzzah for not needing to cook! Meh for not getting to pick.

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7 Quick Tales – Real Things Edition

1. Julian turned officially 7 months on Saturday evening/Sunday morning. He was born at 10:19pm, so I tend to forget until the next day.

2. I really love The Secret World of Stuff, and a new one was released this week.

The thunderstorm is my favorite. It reminds me of my children. When they loom over me. While I’m sleeping.

3. This article on how personality and perspective intertwine was a delight to read. It’s not just that it was informative, it was that his writing style sounds like the voice in my head, and so reading it felt much more like telepathy than anything has a right to.

4. Yesterday I learned that there is a web interface toolkit to make your own Bayeux Tapestry memes. There’s also an offline version available to download.

I am filled with delight. I’m saving this for homeschool history once we get into the Middle Ages.

5. 77% of the crying in my house takes place because Julian is not as mobile as he wants to be.

This state of affairs will clearly not last much longer. I’m sure he will find new things to cry about though.

6. I am really fundamentally delighted with the Boy Scouts announcement about expanding their programs for girls, and allowing the current Cub and Boy Scout curriculum to be used in dens of girls. I would have walked over hot coals as a girl to get to do the stuff that Boy Scouts got to do. Girl Scouts were nothing like it, and increasingly disappointing. We finally gave up on Girl Scouts in favor of more family camping and hiking vacations.

I’m also pleased that they specifically keep the activites separated at a den level, so you have all boys or all girls in a den doing an activity together. Just because I wanted to learn to use a pocket knife or to build things didn’t mean I wanted to be a boy or even to hang out with boys. But I did want to do real things, and that was not something that Girl Scouts offered me many opportunities to do.

I eventually got over the hanging out with boys thing, but mosly because I despaired of finding girls interested in the same things I was.

Then I found the internet. The internet exists for INTJ women to find one another. Also for teaching people how to do real things.

Himself is displeased by it, because he thinks the same people that ruined the Girl Scouts will now invade and ruin the Boy Scouts. Meanwhile I hope that the GSA withers on the vine.

7. Girl Scouts wasn’t ALL bad. I did learn counted cross stitch while I was a Girl Scout, and I do still love that above all other forms of embroidery. It has all the best features of graph paper AND embroidery, which makes me pretty happy.

I have a new counted cross stitch pattern in the works, but I’m not quite ready to reveal it yet.

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