This was our second week of school and we are not off to a good start. Last week, I managed three solid days of school work despite our fire on Labor Day, but this week my whole world fell apart. On Wednesday afternoon I received a call from the restoration company hired to repair the fire damage. They informed me that ALL of our property has been "contaminated" by the fire and said that everything in the house would have to be packed up and moved out. Some of the contaminated property could be professionally cleaned (if our insurance will cover it, which is still uncertain) while the rest had to be disposed of and/or replaced. He also told me that we would not be able to live in the house for several weeks while the work is being done and would need to find someplace else to stay. Further, if our property is not cleaned and/or disposed of, we would not be allowed to move it back into the house because we would re-contaminate it. Given that we just barely got settled into the house, after so many months of careful packing and planning, this is all quite a shock.


This week we read the first chapter in Faith and Life: Following Christ (again) and completed the corresponding Activity Book pages. The kids also read the first four chapters of Saint Dominic: Preacher of the Rosary and Founder of the Dominican Order by Mary Fabyan Windeatt and we worked through most of the Race for Heaven Study Guide questions and activities. Lastly, the kids read the first two chapters of Ignatius Schuster's Illustrated Bible History and answered the chapter questions.


Our week began with a field trip to the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum. In trying to fill a gap in our history reading next week, I had considered assigning a book that I'd seen on other middle school reading lists- The Trees by Conrad Richter. The forestry museum seemed like a good tie-in with the book. However, after pre-reading the book on Tuesday (after our museum visit), I decided that it should probably wait until high school, though it is an engrossing book that I enjoyed. That being said, the museum was a bit of a disappointment anyway and wasn't quite what I'd imagined.

To compensate for the museum, we took the beautiful Columbia River Highway to Multnomah Falls - the second highest year-round waterfall in the United States and a place where Lewis and Clark camped twice on their expedition (in November, 1805 and again in April, 1806). We read the applicable journal entries by Lewis and then the boys ran (literally - where do they find the energy?!) to the top of the falls, while M and I only managed to hike halfway.

Multnomah Falls

Field trips aside, history was probably our slowest subject overall this week, but this is mainly because I've stretched my scheduling of our spine out ridiculously so that it will last us another two years. It's the kids' least favorite subject (but my favorite) and since I usually include tons of extras and get easily distracted by rabbit trails, I wanted to have time for everything without overwhelming them. Since this week fell apart, not a lot got done:

Language Arts

This week, M finished up Peppermints in the Parlor by Barbara Brooks Wallace (her free reading selection), a book that I loved at her age and was recently reminded of after browsing through one of Don Killgallon's books. She enjoyed the book so much that she promptly started on the sequel, The Peril of Peppermints. J read through two Naruto [manga] books that he picked up at the library.

For Literature, M read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll for four days this week (30 minutes per day); we're loosely using the MCT literature guide for discussion. On Friday, she also began reading from The Other Alice: The Story of Alice Liddell and Alice in Wonderland, a nonfiction book by Christina Bj√∂rk and Inga-Karin Eriksson. (For older students or adults, I highly recommend Alice I Have Been: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin!)

Despite all of my big plans for J's reading this year, I ended up placing him in a literature class at a local community learning center. I  knew the class would be challenging, but I really had no idea it'd be so challenging (especially for someone who only enjoys reading manga). His book list this year include A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, Pride and Prejudice, and Slaughterhouse Five. This week's assignment was to read two chapters per day of A Tale of Two Cities. He was not understanding the book at all, so I broke down and bought him the Cliff Notes. Now, he reads a chapter in the book, followed by the Cliff Notes summary and seems to be doing just fine. We'll see how it goes.

For Grammar, we only managed 10 pages of Grammar Town and four chapters of  Grammar-Land (plus the corresponding worksheets); there was no poetry this week.

This was our first week using Susan Wise Bauer's Writing with Skill for Composition and it went surprisingly well. M had a major meltdown on Day 2 (she's such a detail person, summarizing is really hard for her), but pulled it together for the rest of the week and even did a great job on Day 4 which was a longer "challenge" assignment.


This week the kids attended their first drawing class at the community learning center where I've enrolled them part-time (for 2 classes apiece). They both enjoyed it very much and are looking forward to next week.

We did not start a new lesson in art this week, but rather continued with the project we missed last week: a One-Line Abstract Drawing in the style of Paul Klee (this was from Discovering Great Artists by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Kim Solga). We reviewed some of Klee's work before jumping into the project and ended up spending two days on it.

Herr der Stadt (Master of the Town), Oil on paper by Paul Klee, 1937

J - hard at work

M's work

We also briefly studied the contemporary one-line drawings of Nissim Ben Aderet and watched this interview with the artist.


The kids completed two worksheet pages per day from Building Thinking Skills and did some math review worksheets all week, in addition to 45 minutes per day of Khan Academy. I finally got M's math curriculum ordered, Teaching Textbooks Math 6, so we should have that for next week.

In science, we wrapped up Chapter 1 of CPO's Focus on Life Science. Despite the fact that M has been complaining for two weeks that the book is too hard, she did very well on the chapter assessment.  We'll probably need to take a short break from science until we're settled back in the house again. There are a number of experiments coming up and I can't see attempting them from a motel room.

For geography, the kids had two lessons from  Maps, Charts and Graphs, Level D and worked on their second  Geography and Culture task card. They did some additional reading about maps and globes and made maps of their bedroom.

M and I were not able to start French this week because the resources I'd ordered from were delayed in arriving. Since they finally showed up last night, we'll be able to start French next week.  

J continues to work on Hiragana for Japanese I, but really needs a tutor and is not making much progress. Again, I'm thinking this will have to wait until everything is settled with the house first.


  1. mommyx12 said...
    I'm impressed with your schooling despite the unexpected events that have introduced themselves into your family. I hope you get all things worked out soon so you all can move ahead.
    Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...
    I'm sorry that you had a bad week and that so many obstacles are being thrown at your family. I pray that things work out for a quick and easy resolution to your problems!

    Thanks for the book link to Peppermints in the Parlor. This looks like a book my dd might like!

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