Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Blog Hop ~ Student Photo Week...and MFW ECC Wk 1

Week #3 of the Blog Hop!  This week is student pictures, so I'm going to work this in with our first week of MFW ECC :).  I already posted our first day of school here, so this just goes on from there.  This first week is all about learning about maps/globes.  We love maps and globes, but there's always fun to learn with them.  For example, I never knew the differences between the quality of a globe vs a map.  If you don't know what I'm talking about...look at the size of Greenland on a world map, vs the size of Greenland on a globe.  HELLO!  So, to see how hard it is to make a round world onto a flat piece of paper, we did our own transformation of sorts.  We drew the earth onto oranges, and then peeled them apart and attempted to put them back together.  All sorts of space in the middle that the mapmakers contort to fill space.  Seems kind of nutty to me, but that's why they're screwed up!  Anyway, here's a few pics from that:

 Also, yesterday was the day that local public schools went back in session.  Last year, as a selling point of sorts, I told the girls that they could go to the beach on the first day of public school.  Well...they would NOT let me forget about it this year again!  Good thing we love the beach and there's never a bad reason to go :).  We were wanting to go a new beach that we've never gone to, but we got a tip from an old friend that our old standard was having whale sightings very near the shore, so we decided to head that direction.  So glad we made this choice!  The weather was perfect (of course...it's the beach LOL) and the wildlife we saw was wonderful!  Apparently there are feeder fish that are migrating through the area and it has brought about some beautiful sights.  We saw whales AND dolphins, about 100 sea lions and HUNDREDS of pelicans going nuts all over the water!  It was so cool!  We spent a good 4 hours doing nothing but hanging out on the sand.  And NO ONE complained about having to go to the bathroom (something that would normally happen as soon as the restrooms are out of view).  Here's some fun pictures from that day:

This was one of about 10 "presents" Mir gave to me.  I had to unwrap them by taking the rocks off the top, then dumping the sand, and that gave me more rocks on the bottom...which I then had to unwrap as well.  I never could quite figure out if I was doing it right, but she seemed happy that I was playing along :)

Mir DESPISED the piers.  She did NOT like being able to see the water underneath her feet and this was at the end of the day, after walking to the end of 2 piers...TWICE.  She was DONE, so her sister gave her a ride :).  Love sisterly love (just wish it showed up more often LOL).

And then one final group of pictures.  At the beginning of the summer, we got a new-to-us trailer for the family.  Very excited about being able to go camping again.  I realized we hadn't been camping since Sav (now 7) was an infant!  That's just too long!  We went up to Frazier Park.  It's only about an hour from us and was such a wonderful weekend!  Auntie and cousin Jade came with us for some of the trip as well.  The girls honestly had no idea what to expect.  Mir didn't want to have a campfire because it meant that we would have to go outside of the trailer, and Aly was going to go nuts without any electricity, but we all survived and had a wonderful time!

Playing a goofy game where they get to guess what it is that's on their head, thanks to clues the other players give them.

Mir LOVING her GIANT s'more!  Who knew how large marshmellows could come!  Next time...normal size please!  These were crazy big!

Counting the rings on the tree to see how old it is.  

As part of our MFW Curriculum, we're supposed to go on a weekly nature walk.  Because of where we live, and the number of hours we have in the day, I'm guaranteeing that we won't get this done every week, HOWEVER, when we do, I wanted a little more of a guide, than just a blank piece of paper.  I'm not good with blank pieces of paper ;).  Anyway, came across this "My Nature Journal" and got one for each of the older girls.  It's WONDERFUL.  It's separated out into different types of nature you may be in and has writing prompts, fun activities, q&a, etc for these areas.  We were in the "Woodlands" section and they got to answer questions like "What do you see that's smaller than your thumb?"  "What is older than you?" etc.  They loved it and I can see how it's going to be a great thing to look back on through time to remember specific trips we've been on and the different things we've seen.  I HIGHLY recommend it.

And here, is true Mir fashion.  Aly just drew the Old Maid card so in all her manner loving self, Mir had to make sure she knew how happy she was for that poor choice. LOL.  Sportsmanship is on our list of studies ;)

Hope you enjoyed the pictures!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The last day of "summer"...

Friday was the last Friday before the public schools are back in session.  We went to a fun "end of summer" swimming playdate where the majority of people there did NOT know that we were homeschoolers.  As to be expected on this day, the topic of school came up.  There were the multitude of, "Are you guys looking forward to school starting?" (when we've already been going for a couple weeks) and, "Are you glad summer vacation is finally over?" (when we're planning our beach trip for the day everyone else is going back to school) and of course the, "Are you looking forward to a quiet house?" (when that NEVER happens LOL).  These are understandable questions and ones that I probably have even asked of friends in the past.  They seem almost foreign now though!  I thought I would just walk through a few of my answers for these questions and how they have changed since we began homeschooling.

"Are you guys looking forward to school starting?"  Of course!!  We truly love school.  But it's a different love now.  Before homeschooling, Aly loved going to school to see all her friends again, but the idea of doing all the "school stuff" was definitely not loved by her or me!  NOW, as homeschoolers, both girls love doing the school stuff!  You should have seen how excited they were, on the first day of school, when I told them they were going to get to take a pretest for Geography!  Aly voluntarily told me that she wants to take her MATH WORK with her to work on the car on the way to our beach trip.  Okay, really?!?!  Math was her most despised subject before we started homeschooling and now she wants to voluntarily do it on a day I'm giving her completely off??  To be totally honest, I doubt when reality sets in that she'll even crack open the book on our trip, but the point is that she knows she enjoys learning it now!  Who knew?!

"Are you glad summer vacation is finally over?"  Once again, I would answer, "Yes!" to this one, but for different reasons.  Instead of being glad summer vacation is finally over so I finally get the kids out of my hair, now I'm glad summer vacation is over so that we can get back to our routine and dig into our new studies!  So yes, I'm definitely glad summer vacation is over...but not for the same reason as most.  Now the end of our summer vacation marks the beginning of our learning about the creatures that swim in the ocean, and the different cultures that make our world great.  We get to practice new writing skills and learn new math functions.  And we actually enjoy a large portion of it :)

"Are you looking forward to a quiet house?"  Well...yes...but not in the same way.  Don't get me wrong, I love my silence just as much, if not more, than the next mom.  Anyone close to me knows how precious those nap-time hours are to me and knows how I stay up far too late in the evening because of the pure silence it offers me.  The difference for me now is that I appreciate the silence I get even more, because it's not quite as available as it used to be.  It's kind of like that wonderful bag of M&Ms (plain, thank you very much).  I love a bag twice a year at Christmas and Easter and at the occasional movie theater thrown in the middle, but if I were to have a bag every.single.day it would really take the joy out of their sweet melt-in-your-mouth goodness.  I never realized how accustomed I had become to the silence.  It was so much so that the break in the silence (ie all the kids being home) every afternoon and all weekend long was becoming harder and harder to handle.  I see now that we were losing our powerful skills of relating to each other as a household, simply because we were away from each other during more waking hours than we were with each other.  Please don't think this means that I don't still cherish my quiet time because I ABSOLUTELY do.  It's just that it's more of a privilege nowadays, instead of a right.

I never thought (nor still think) my previous answers were wrong, but man how my answers have changed in one short year :).  Bring on this new school year!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Blog Hop ~ School Room Week

It's week 2 in the 2012 Not Back-to-School Blog Hop.  Last week was Curriculum Week where I listed what curriculum we will be using this year.  This week is School Room week where I get to show you where we do a lot of our schooling.  Because it's specifically School Room week, and we're blessed enough to have a school room in our home, I'm showing it off.  HOWEVER...I don't want you to think that this is the only place we do school OR that a school room is necessary to homeschool your children.  

We did some rearranging in our home to create our school room.  It used to be our main family room.  The room where we hung out the most!  Luckily, we had one of those "formal" living rooms (which was incredibly un-formal) at the front of the house that was rarely used, so we moved furniture, re-routed some cable lines, and began using the front room as our main family room and it gave me space for a wonderful school room!  The absolute only reason this room is well used and functional as a school room is because it is in the same area of the house as the kitchen and laundry room.  It is actually wide open to the kitchen, but we put up some shelving to give it a little bit of a wall space.  The kids are able to work in the school room and I'm still able to work in the kitchen and do laundry, and still be within ear/eye sight of them.  Plus, we still use our whole house as a learning center.  The kids' computer sits on the bar in the kitchen, science and art projects take place at the kitchen table, nature walks happen out doors, the trampoline makes for great PE workouts, etc.  My point is, while I'm very happy to have a school room, we're not stuck in it all day because I want to make sure that we're learning from real life, just as much as we're learning at our desks :)

Now for the pictures!

Okay, so first I'll take you on a clockwise tour around the room...

Now around the room, clockwise, with a few details...

This is the Ikea Expedit and it is fabulous!!  It has so much space that I can just organize to my heart's content!  The cubes are so versatle and Ikea has some wonderful things to go in it!  The tan boxes came from Ikea, along with the drawer inserts, door inserts and magazine holders.  My only problem with this piece of furniture was that I kept forgetting which cube I had what in, so I resorted to my label maker and just made up some labels.  Amazing how much that helped my feeble mind :).

Next is our first of three bulletin boards.  We made these boards out of  a sheet of underlayment that we picked up from Lowes.  It was less than $20 and we cut all 3 bulletin boards out of it!  Last year we covered it in fabric, but the fabric I chose, while I liked it, was just too busy for a bulletin board.  This year I went the standard classroom route and used paper and borders.  Much more "school" looking, but the girls had fun choosing the board/paper combinations :).  Also in this picture, you can see the first of many inspirational quote posters (above the bulletin board) that I picked up from the dollar store, a rocket poster that our rocket-launcher-cousin gave to us and my great-grandmother's rocking chair.  This chair is where I sit in the mornings to do our first morning group-time type lessons.  Love that it has such family history with it and is included in our daily lives still. This bulletin board has our memory items posted on it right now.  It will later include math concepts that need more practice, vocabulary words that we're working on, or anything else that needs some extra reinforcement.

Now is my best find in the whole school room.  I was looking for a white board, but didn't want to spend a ton of money on it.  I posted a "wanted" ad on my local freecyle list and a local private college contacted me.  They were remodeling their school and had 1 white board left.  It's conference room style, so it's this on the outside, but both doors open up to have a nice open white board space on the inside.  When you google it, these styles/size are upwards of $1000+!!  I got it for free :D.  It was quite an adventure getting it in my SUV  with my 3 girls assisting me - that sucker is HEAVY, but we got it and absolutely love it.  It's a white board that takes away absolutely NO wall space because I use the outside for all our morning discussion pieces.  The calendar and weather pieces for from the local teacher store, there's several more inspirational signs (a theme for our school room LOL) and our virtue from We Choose Virtues that we're working on at the time (Contentment at this point). 

Just a quick pic of one side of the white board opened up.

Next is our bookcase and game shelf area.  The bookcase desperately needs to be sorted through and we need about two more game book cases, but it's what we have for right now.  The small table in front is a very old, well used kid's table that the kids like to sit at to play games, color, etc.  It's just kind of a fun place to go and it's so beat up that I really don't care what they do to it.

Next is our story couch and "book basket" space.  Sorry for such a bad picture - I didn't close the blinds until after I took this picture LOL. We used to have a couch from our living room in here, but it was very fluffy with too many pillows, and I just didn't like it.  So, we went to Ikea again ;).  I wanted something compact, but that had enough room for us to sit and read stories.  We decided on the Klippan Loveseat. Since it is technically a love seat, it won't fit all of us forever, but it works great for now.  I don't like that it is a slipcover, but other than that, it fit all my other requirements, so we went with it.  The slipcover does slip, and get wrinkly and everything that goes with that, but it's not HORRIBLE, so we just deal with it.  The rain gutter book shelf behind the couch holds are "book basket" books.  These are a selection of [usually] library books on whatever topic(s) we're studying at the time.  It's filled with Olympic books right now :).  The kids can sit here and read to their heart's content :).

This is my desk area.  The desk is the same kind the girls have in the middle of the room.  It's here from Walmart and was cheap, so it works :).  The bulletin board (not one of our homemade ones) holds pictures of my girls, along with all the creations that they make me.  In the corner is our telescope.  On the floor are 2 black crates.  These crates hold our school work for the entire year.  The one on the outside of my desk has folders for the first 8 weeks of school (one folder for each kid, per week) along with all the books that we'll be utilizing regularly during those 8 weeks.  The one under my desk, against the wall, is the rest of the school year.  I'm loving this folder system so far!  I can have the year planned out, and add things as I come across fun ideas or things to do, and yet don't have to erase anything to do move things around.  More details on the system I use later :).  The bookcase next to my desk is filled with my office supplies and the rest of books/supplies that I want to use this year, but am not using at this time.  On the desk are pen/pencil/clip holders that my girls made for me for christmas, a ceramic pencil holder that I painted when I was just a kid myself, and in front of my desk is a globe that my brother-in-law donated to our school room :)

This is our tv/wii/map area.  When using Amanda Bennett's Olympic unit study, we plug my laptop into the tv and were able to watch all the video links and such on there.  It was great and I look forward to using this more in the future!  The green basked is where the kids turn in all their completed papers.  The mirror on the side is just because I haven't found a good place to put it yet ;).  The red baskets on the bottom hold the Wii games and accessories so the kids can still play the Wii in a room other than our main living room.  I love the map right here because the kids climb up onto the coffee table (bad mom) and examine the heck out of the map.  I will often find Sav in there just sitting there, seeing what new place she can find.

This is our 3rd bulletin board (currently displaying our Olympic medal count chart).  Under the bulletin board is another rain gutter bookshelf for library books that aren't necessarily related to what we're studying.  The drawers to the right of the fireplace are Mir's workboxes (without the labels because we just switched to these drawers and I haven't put the labels on yet) and the black crate on top holds her MFW preschool toys and activities

Here's our solar system from our Astronomy Studies of last year.  We like it so much we still have it displayed.  I'm sure it will come down eventually, but for now, everyone enjoys it.  The little yellow spots you see on the ceiling are stars with sight words on them, to help reinforce some reading skills last year and they just haven't been taken down yet :)

Well...I think that's it!  I hope you've enjoyed looking at our school room as much as I enjoy looking at everyone else's!  Let me know if you have any questions and I'd love to hear any comments or suggestions you have on it!  I have fun adding new things to it :)  See you next week for "Student Photo Week"!

That's all folks!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Summer vacation really is over...

The final day of swim lessons makes summer vacation's end official.  We've been taking swim lessons from Miss Vicki for 6 or 7 years now.  We love her to death and enjoy our twice a week trip to her backyard.  This year Mir was swimming twice a week, Sav was swimming once a week and Aly was just goofing off while sisters were taking lessons.

We just had our last lesson and it's amazing to see what they've been able to accomplish in 9 short weeks.  Sav is a champion backstroker.  The girl LOVES this stroke.  She would lay on her back and do it for hours.  Of course, in Sav fashion...she doesn't do it quickly LOL, but she definitely does it with perfection.  Mir, at 4 yrs old, received one of the highest rewards from Miss Vicki.  She earned the whole pool!  This means that Miss Vicki was confident enough in her strokes and with her confidence in herself, that she could now swim anywhere in the pool all by herself...even the tall water (ie deep end).  Mom wouldn't have minded if she didn't earn this treat until next summer, but alas, she earned it fair and square.  Mir proudly looked at me, as I nodded my head with confirmation, that she could indeed swim with the big girls, in the tall water, without Miss Vicki near her.  Of course my eyes never left her sight, and my anxiety level rose tremendously, but she still did it...and LOVED it!!

Miss Vicki did something she's never done with us before.  She ended their session with a series of Olympic swimming competitions.  There was a tube race, a 'kickers' race, a bubble race, a gliding race, and so much more.  Aly, with a 3-6 yr advantage over her sisters, won most races (except for the ones Miss Vicki participated in herself), but all the kids had a blast!  We'll see you in 10 months Miss Vicki!

Sav & Miss Vicki

Mir getting some sort of lecture from Miss Vicki

Jay & Mir talking on the Fish Phone

Miss Jay
Sav in a cannonball competition
Jay getting a tire ride at the end of lessons

Thursday, August 9, 2012

First Day of 5th, 2nd and prek!

We had our first day of school this Tuesday and it was great :).  Aly was slightly hesitant due to starting when many of her friends are still on summer vacation, but we're just starting back part time (they spent the entire next day sewing with their aunt LOL), and we need to stock up some time for when we have to take some time off for my consignment sale event.
1st day of school
We're very excited to be going with My Father's World this year.   I really wanted to do it last year, but going with a "box" curriculum has such a stigma attached to it, and the cost of it seemed so high, that I just avoided it.  I thought I could do better for cheaper.  Well...I wish I wouldn't have done that, so this year, MFW it is!  We're starting their 5 year cycle by using Exploring Countries and Cultures.  This will be a full year of world geography where we not only learn the locations of countries on a map, but we truly learn about the culture of the residents of many of those countries.  We will also learn about the different religions in these regions and how we, as Christians, can pray for their lives to benefit them the most.  We will learn how they eat, live, work, etc. 

We started by reading the book Maps and Globes.  It's actually a Reading Rainbow book so we're going to be watching the episode on it soon as well.  We then read the intro of Window on the World. From there, we went on a walk through the neighborhood as we prayed for our neighbors, showing us that no matter what we're doing, where we are, or who we're with, we can pray :).

Praying throughout our neighborhood

The girls then had to fill out an application for their passport for this year.  They filled out the application, wrote the check for $80 and addressed it to the passport official (Daddy).  The Passport Official told them that unfortunately there was a 3-5 week processing time for getting their passports, so now they're just having to wait.  It's like torture.

Mir loved working on her preschool work.  She feels like such a big girl when she gets to do this.  Her sisters enjoyed it too because they each had their time when they got to work with her on her MFW Preschool toys while I was working individually with the other sister.  Love seeing them all work together...and enjoy it!

Besides the fun stuff above, they also did the 'boring' Grammar, Spelling and Math.  No fun stories about that...just something we all have to do :).  We ended up getting more done for the first day than I had planned, so that was nice.  At the end of the day, when I asked how the first day back to school was, I got a resounding, "GREAT!"  Makes for one happy Mama :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blog Hop ~ Curriculum Week

 August is the start of the 4th Annual, Not-Back-to-School Blog Hop and I love seeing a peak into everyone else's homeschool so I thought I'd join in the fun.  This is my first ever "blog hop" type post though, so go easy on me.  Hope I don't screw it up too bad :) 

This week is Curriculum Week.  We actually just started back to school yesterday, so this is a good time for me to post our 2012-2013 plans.  All plans are subject to change of course ;), but I'm feeling pretty confident with most of them right now :).  I'm listing these with a few corny, at the front door, type pictures :).  We always did this picture at the beginning of the school year, as we walked to school.  It seems rather silly now since we just turned right around and went back inside LOL, but I've kept it up so that I always have a good reference point for their growth each year :).  

Aly, 10 years old

Geography, Bible, Art, Music & some Science: My Father's World, Exploring Countries and Cultures
General Language Arts/Grammar: Christian Light Education, Grade 5
Spelling: Spelling Power

Reading: Ummm...lots ;).  

Sav, 7 years old

Geography, Bible, Art, Music & some Science: My Father's World, Exploring Countries and Cultures
Language Arts/Grammar: First Language Lessons, Level 2

Reading: Ummm...lots ;).  

Mir, 4 years old

Preschool fun: My Father's World Preschool Package
Preschool Papers: Letter of the Week

 A few notes about these lists.  Aly & Sav are also going to be testing out Learning Language Arts through Literature and Life of Fred.  I didn't want to commit to them, but got them at a good price and really like the looks of them, so we're going to play with them this year to see how they go.  When it comes to the math, the girls love Math U See, but I don't think it's "sticking" as well as it should be, so I'm adding CLE to it.  Hoping to use CLE as the core with MUS as a conceptual supplement...we'll see.  Also, Mir goes to a wonderful co-op preschool 3 mornings a week, so her items will only truly be used 2 days/wk and in the afternoons if we're still working after her nap.  

I think that's it!!  Hope you've enjoyed looking at my list :).  Now I'm off to clean off my desk in the schoolroom so that it's presentable for next week's post :)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The last year

Okay, I warned you on my first blog post that I'm horrible at keeping up with journaling.  At least I know my weaknesses ;)  Now be prepared because I'm going to talk for awhile to make up for it.

11 months ago, I created this blog as an easy way to "out" myself as a new homeschooler.  I didn't want to have to deal with the same conversation over and over again where I explained how we came to this point while I defended our decisions.  11 months later I'm very happy to say that I am definitely a homeschooler, very proud of it and will talk anyone's ear off about it!  This last year has been amazing!  Don't get me wrong...it hasn't been perfect.  My educational vision has evolved multiple times, the girls and I have had our share of power struggles, I've been ready to pull my hair out when my husband got home in the evening (even more so on the evenings when work kept him away), my housekeeping skills appear to have been taken over by a 6 yr old child and yet, through it all, I still say that it has been amazing!

For those of you that like specifics, I will give a quick listing of SOME of what we studied last year and what curriculum we used to guide us through those studies:

As a family, we learned in surprising depth, about space and what is in our sky, using Apologia's Astronomy course.  We also went through many different areas of history using pieces of Biblioplan, Story of the World, and TruthQuest.  Aly went through all facets of single & multi digit division using Math U See Delta and Sav went through single digit addition & subtraction using Math U See Alpha.  Aly began the Student Writing Intensive course from the Institute for Excellence in Writing while also using Christian Light Education's Language Arts books to work on her  language arts and grammar skills.  Sav made amazing progress in her reading using Hooked on Phonics, while she did Grammar from First Language Lessons and Writing from Writing with Ease.  They also did some handrwiting books, made several lapbooks, did art projects and read more books this last year than they have read their entire lives.  Miranda still attended our awesome co-op preschool 2-3 times a week but when she joined us at home, she adored doing her Letter of the Week work, playing all sorts of fun file folder games, and just generally tagging along with what everyone else was doing.

So, why has this year been amazing?  I don't want to negate the fact that the learning they have done has been phenomenal, but that honestly hasn't been the best of it.  The growth they have made emotionally, socially and spiritually is what has made it all worth it.  For anyone that is concerned about the social aspect of homeschooling...well...it's crap.  Sorry, just putting it out there, but it is!  This last year has shown me exactly what the difference is between "socializing" in a 5 day/wk regular school environment and socializing in normal, every day environments.

I can see the difference most clearly in Aly, simply because she was in the regular school system for longer.  The peer influence of regular school which caused my then 3rd grade daughter (8 yrs old) to constantly discuss the continuously changing cycle of what boy she liked, what boy liked her, how large a male classmate's boy parts were (yes, really), and so much more, is now practically non-existent.  Don't get me wrong, she still has her crushes.  The difference is they are now normal, 9 yr old crushes.  Not the obsessive, my-life-revolves-around-this type of crushes.  She has, on her own, picked up on the difference between those friends who exhibit virtues that she agrees with and those who she still may enjoy hanging out with, but she doesn't necessarily want to emulate.  She has learned that her sisters aren't the enemy, they truly can be her friends.  She has learned that her mom and dad are available for any off the wall question she may have (and boy does she have a lot), no matter how personal they may be.  And best of all, she has learned that God isn't separate from life...God IS life!

Since Sav is younger, and only went through kindy in regular school, I don't see the amazing about-face like I do in Aly.  Instead, what I see is a tremendous growth in the confidence she has in herself, her love of Christ and her patience with her sister.  She is growing into a wonderful young girl, who doesn't have the 7 hr/day, 5 day/wk influence from other immature children.  Instead, her main influence is a woman who is confident in who she is and very confident in who her children are becoming.  Unless things drastically change, Sav will always be the quieter one.  She's more reflective, more introspective and just darn sweet.  This isn't getting squashed by 30+ loud and overbearing 7 yr olds.  Instead these qualities are being enhanced by a mom who can see exactly how to work with it and bring out the good parts of these traits.

Let me also clarify all of this by saying that I am NOT their only influence!  I'm just their main one, the same way I have been since their birth.  They still have tons of interaction with their peers through enrichment classes, tennis lessons, dance classes, play dates, field trips, church activities and so much more!  Whoever came up with the term "home"schooling really should be slapped because it truly gives an incorrect picture of our day. We are anything but just home!  I've put more miles on my car this last year than in quite some time...and I'm enjoying all of it :).  It really isn't anything like most people imagine!

So, while I have loved watching the learning take place, and loved seeing them grow to new potentials, the thing that really has made me have that amazing year is to see who the kids are becoming as individuals.   I get to see that just because they hit school age, all my years of being a stay-at-home mom don't have to be thrown out the window.  It's an amazing sight to see and I'm very happy to say, we will be proudly continuing this adventure through another year (and hopefully more).  I've changed some of our curriculum around (and am VERY excited about the changes...more on that later) and I've kept some the same.  Very anxious to see where this next year in our Life of Learning will take us!