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We have been taking it easy the second half of the summer, enjoying the beautiful weather. We do a few lessons a week, but they’re on the bottom of our priority list at the moment. Instead we’ve been taking walks/hikes, learning how to ride a bike, organizing the library/garage, etc…

My parents visited a few weeks back and we all went cabin camping, along with my brother’s family. Here’s some pics. I should’ve taken more, but I only take it out when the lighting is good.

Gramy/Grampy (aka Nana/Papa) with all their grandchildren.

The twins… (Sorry I cannot be 100% sure who is Brady and who is Beckett.)

Satori just loves her cousin Peyton. They are going to be flower girls together in my other brother’s upcoming wedding! This was one of the few times I got Peyton to look directly in the camera. She loves to dance and flail her arms I noticed!

Satori with her two top front teeth yet (which she just lost in the past few days).

Our cabins were just outside Rocky Mountain National Park and moose were a common sight. We had some foraging just outside our cabin and all around the campground.

Paddle-boating on Lake Granby.

The highly anticipated opening of Denver’s IKEA led to the purchase of new bookshelves for our home library. Satori has been enjoying reading in the cozy library.

I am currently obsessed with filling out our library with the best literature for ages 6-14. Satori seems to enjoy reading books most written for late elementary/middle school age. We also got an Audible membership and have been listening to tons of quality literature.

Her flower girl dress has arrived and it fits perfectly! We will be getting a haircut next week, sorry for her long bangs and messy hair in these pictures.

Because Satori is losing all her teeth, she looks like a crazy jack-0-lantern when she smiles overly zealously. We now have 3 types of smiles that she’ll do for wedding pictures, lol!

  1. Controlled: Lips closed, no teeth
  2. Calm: Lips partly open, just top of teeth showing
  3. Crazy: Let it all loose! All teeth and gaps showing!

This flower is detachable, we can take it off it it’s distracting.

Thanks Dad for making our sturdy new deck step! We now feel confident that we won’t break our leg stepping off the deck. 🙂

We are off on another trip tomorrow – to Colorado Springs! I still have to share our photos from our Oregon trip yet.

Up until this month, Satori hasn’t been big on reading. She’s quite bright, but did not teach herself to read at an early age. When we did start using a reading program, she just followed along but did not race ahead in our reading lessons. To my dismay, she has not taken much initiative in reading on her own. I was the complete opposite as a child. Sometimes I worried she’d never take up reading for pleasure. I reminded myself she was only six.

I’ve never strongly encouraged her to read the typical early readers, but as I want to be a great father and learn about parenting from sites like mamonlineshop.com I knew I have to be patient with her. She’s read only a few books over 50 pages on her own this spring. One of them was a picture book on Anne of Green Gables, which I’d say was about 3rd grade level. Other larger chapter books she would start but not finish.

Well earlier this month she started reading. She’s finally interested! She’s been reading books like The Trumpet of the Swan, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and Anne of Green Gables Classic Starts books (more on those later). She’s perusing magazines like Ask and Click. And she’s not dropping them after reading just a few chapters. She reads during the day, before bed, the entire time we’re in the car (long time as we live far away from the city), in the grocery cart at the store… She still writes stories a lot, but now at least she’s reading stories as well.

We’ve dedicated an empty bedroom for a library in our house, but the past year we haven’t read in it much. Satori had no interest, and we do our read-alouds at night in the bedroom. The poor room has been neglected, and even worse, when we’ve finished a workbook or program, we just toss it in the room on the floor. Mounds of paper sat on the chairs and tables.

Well this week I decided to start using it again and it got cleaned and updated! I no longer have my wide-angle camera lens, so room pictures aren’t as fun/easy to take anymore, but here’s some updated photos.

The biggest change I made was adding our laminated timelines. We’ve got four Classical Education timelines on the far wall. Running along the entire twelve-foot length of the wall is our Charlie’s Playhouse Prehistory timeline. The Charlie’s Playhouse timeline is too high to touch and read easily, but we also have their Floor Mat timeline, which is the exact same thing, but bigger. The white shelf holds all our Dover coloring books, Poetry books, small history/science/math series books such as Read-and-Find-Out, If You Lived…, You Wouldn’t Want To…, as well as some chapter books.

On the left of this wall we have our magnetic paint space, but above it has a U.S. Presidents and an Ancient Civilization timeline. The closet that runs the whole length of the wall holds lots of homeschooling programs, games, manipulatives, and books.

This wall has Ancient Art history and Western Art History from 1400. The far shelf holds most of our history and science books.

I also moved our whiteboard/drawing table in here in case Satori wants to draw, doodle, or write if I’m reading aloud. She still loves her squishy beanbag!

Geography wasn’t forgotten, we’ve still got our World and US Maps in bright color in here, as well as a talking educational globe.

We’ve been using this room everyday this week, even while I was in the process of cleaning it. I want to incorporate a Read-Aloud time plus Silent Sustained Reading time, for at least a full hour of reading during the day. Our current read-aloud is The Secret Garden. We’ve also started up our Writing With Ease lessons again, the part where I read the story and she answers the questions in full sentences. We do this in the reading room now. It’s gotten her interested to read The Trumpet of the Swan.

Even Daddy joins in on the fun, as he reads his PMI book (Project Management Institute Exam). He’s taking his big test tomorrow, I wish him luck!

I splurged today.

I had recently sold an expensive camera lens (I’ve been busy selling tons of books and photography equipment to help pay for homeschooling stuff), and for months now I’ve been mulling over getting a Discovery Plus Streaming annual subscription. If you live in Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, you get this for free. But if you’re not that lucky, you can still save 40% by purchasing it through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

Here is the main website for this, I do think they have a 30 day trial period:

Discovery Education Streaming Plus

I have heard some great things about this subscription, from great Spanish language lessons to Magic School Bus episodes. I wanted it for the science and history videos. Other people using it touted that it has tons of those, but also you can print off worksheets to go with the videos.

So after asking around to see if this is worth it, I finally took the plunge and purchased it through Homeschool Buyers Co-op. Within minutes, I was able to log-in to the site and watch videos!

Take a look at their 143 page Title List. WOW! Want to know more? Check out this great review that is posted on the Homeschool Buyers Co-op.

We immediately watched some great videos on Ancient Egypt, a story about an egyptian cat, a video on states of matter… Satori and I were enthralled. The advanced search makes it so easy to find what you’re looking for, by age, subject, media type. Some people get this hooked up to their TV, but we’re computer people anyway. When I watch it on Windows Media Player at 700 kbps, the quality is fine for me (to be honest, I was expecting horrible quality).

We’re so excited about this and it is going to be the perfect supplement to much of our curriculum – especially science, history and language!

We also have Netflix, and we do watch their Instant Movies on our TV. But the educational selection is not as vast as Discovery Education Plus.

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On a related note, also earlier today I checked out my local library FREE audio book service, and I’m very psyched about that too! I already checked out Treasure Island, which I’m reading aloud to my family this month. It is hard for me to read, and now I don’t have to!

Yesterday Satori got her very own library card, as Boulder only lets you take out 20 books at a time, with two cards, we’ll get 40 books. 🙂 Then I recalled an idea I got from another blogger earlier this week – her very own homeschool ID card! These are handy to take advantages of discounts at places like museums.

Yesterday Satori and I discussed possible names for our homeschool. I wanted to incorporate the word “mountain”, as we  live on a mountain, and she wanted to add the word “fox”, with our neighborhood foxes visiting us often. So “Fox Mountain Academy” it is!

I wanted to see some examples, so a quick Google brought up the Homeschool Buyers Coop, of which we are member anyway (free to join, and an awesome service). They offered FREE homeschool ID cards! They have an interactive form for you to build your own ID card for free. You can then print and laminate yourself or have them print one for you for a small fee. We made it ourselves.

In 10 minutes, I had this printed out and laminated! (Some info is blurred out for privacy.)

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By the way, both a laminator and a paper cutter are great investments for the homeschool. I got to use my new 5-in-1 cutter, it has a “rounded edge” cutter, so we were able to get a nice fancy, rounded edge. 🙂

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Satori loves it! She’s so very proud.

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Now, I would like to get her hair cut and then we’ll have to do another photo shoot (I have a photography studio which comes in handy), so that we can get an updated photo.

She now has two important id cards to store in her purse.

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Our new Library Reading Room is finished today! I dedicate this library to Jim Trelease, as his book The Read-Aloud Handbook has inspired me. Within a week of reading his book, I set out to convert an unused room to this family reading room treat.

Here is the view when you first enter the room. We’ve got windows looking into the National Forest, tantalizing mountain breezes permeate the room… Colorful walls motivate and energize hours of reading! (To view any photo larger, just click on it.)

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The main feature which inspired the room was the “rain gutter bookshelves“, which I learned from Trelease of course. These shelves are made of inexpensive rain gutters and allow the books to be faced outwards, which is more appealing to the child, thus more likely to encourage reading the books. The stool below gives her access to the top shelf. Above the shelves is an “inspiration wire” (idea from Amanda Soule’s book The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections), which will rotate Satori’s drawings of the books we read. I may make the wire prettier by using ribbon instead of yarn and putting decorative ends up.

Rain Gutter Bookshelves

Rain Gutter Bookshelves

With an irresistibly comfy bean bag, Satori can easily grab a book and sit down to read it. I found this at Target for just $19.99, and might pick up a turquoise one later this week.

Satori reading on her bean bag

Satori reading on her bean bag

For snuggling with Mom and/or Dad, we’ve got a purple loveseat for some bonding family time. The viewpoint from her bean bag is great too while we’re reading picture books on the couch. We’ve got a more traditional bookshelf with colorful fabric bins which we’ll use to hold the heavier books, novels/chapter books, and our Five in a Row manuals. Bottom shelf is easy access to a children’s dictionary, heavy poetry anthology books, and other fun reference books. On top is her current readers, this summer it is easy Bob Book types.

You’ll also notice some shorter rain gutter bookshelves. You can put these in so many places where you can’t put a traditional bookshelf! I think we’ll be putting up a few more soon…

Purple loveseat

Purple loveseat

The other corner of the room has a comfortable glider and footrest. Here’s the view sitting in the glider. You’ll notice we put colorful, laminated maps of the world and the United States on the walls. They put out nice color contrast to the room and are handy references to view where the stories take us!

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Also up on the wall is a laminated timeline, currently only ancient civilizations which we start studying this fall, we’ll be adding more as we cover more history. This are also great reference when we want to understand when a particular book was written. The blank spaces on the walls are magnetic! A unique little feature we added just for fun. 🙂 Perhaps we can spell out new words that we cover in our books.

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You may notice the pink baskets on the ground by our long face-out shelves. These are our “Traveling Book Baskets”. Another idea inspired by Trelease’s book, we can put a few books in here that we’re interested in reading, and haul it to our bedrooms for night-time reading, the bathroom for captive reading, outdoors… you name it.

Thank you Jim Trelease, your ideas are enriching our family in innumerable ways!!!

Traveling Book Baskets

Traveling Book Baskets

The last two days that I was missing in action from my blog were spent painting our new library reading room. We took a “vacation” from our usual math and reading subjects.

I have always dreamed about dedicating a room for a library, but just for myself, with floor to ceiling bookshelves, a floor globe, a fern, you know the typical old library theme. It was not high on the priority list. However, after reading the Read-Aloud book, within hours I had started in on our new, fun Children’s Library Reading Room! I wanted a vibrant room where we’d be excited about books and reading. I chose youthful, playful lime (lime heart) as I always loved that color. Halfway through the process, I thought the room could use a bit more energy and brightness so I went out and got orange (casa de oro). I would have never thought of using orange before, but I love the combination!

Satori was very excited about the painting process, and she painted the lower part of the lime wall.

Satori painting

Satori painting

We even made some walls magnetic! I was worried it wouldn’t work with our textured walls, but it works great! David was very doubtful when he saw the BLACK magnetic primer plastered horridly on the walls, but with just 2 coats, I couldn’t have asked for a better result. I gave Satori a jar of magnetic numbers and she immediately put down 0-9, just like in our Math-U-See!

Magnetic walls

Magnetic walls

Today we’ll let everything dry and hopefully over the weekend install the rain gutter bookshelves. I’ve got a fun purple couch ready to go along one wall, and I’m going to order colorful bean bags for Satori to read on. I’ll put our colorful maps on one wall. Maybe put up an inspiration wire to host Satori’s artwork and crafts…

Here is the bare room, with fresh paint and freshly washed carpets!

Freshly painted/washed carpets

Freshly painted/washed carpets

While I was painting yesterday Satori worked on her online ReadingEggs.com, we haven’t logged on for a few months. She goes through it super fast now compared to just 2 months ago now that we are going through our Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading book. She’s now on Map 4. And hey, I noticed they use the exact same color scheme as our new reading room – orange and lime!

Double-post today, we had alot of fun. 🙂

Sunny and  mid-60’s today… Started in Nederland with our Spanish class. Then headed to the Boulder library to find books for our next FIAR row.

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Of course had to say Hi to the ducks! We were able to get real close, they were very friendly. All the people feeding them attracted quite a bunch.

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Satori spotted the first flower that we saw all year, she almost picked it, but I stopped her!

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Towards the end of our day we found a really cool playground, we’ll have to come back and visit longer when we have more time! For those of you in Colorado, this is called “Foster’s Place”, and its in Georgetown, CO. (Yeah, we really drove all over the place today!)

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