It typically happens that each fall, my blog gets all schooly for a while, as my brain is filled with homeschool thoughts and therefore that’s what comes out.

But for some reason, that hasn’t happened this year. So either I’m not focused enough on educating my child or I’ve just learned to compartmentalize and not bore you all with educational details.

After all, we all graduated and fled school for a reason, right?

But those of you who are homeschool moms have been checking in with me to see what we’ve been doing this year, what curriculum we’re using, and how many times I’ve locked myself in my bedroom so far.

So here’s an update for those of you who care.

First Day of Second Grade

We started our year off with a celebration of crepe paper and using up all my color printer ink.


Like last year, Ali got a First Day of School present.


Unlike last year, Noah did not. Sending him to preschool has its perks.

Her present might have been more for me than her,


as I find rainbow looming quite therapeutic after a long day’s school.


She then got to peek at her schoolbooks for the first time – it never hurts to wrap those like a present, too.


We are now eight weeks into the school year, and I’m fairly happy with all of our choices.

Despite a few somewhat annoying stories last year, I decided to go almost entirely with BJU curriculum this year, with the exception of Horizons Spelling and Handwriting Without Tears.


The English is fantastic, covering a lot of gaps in last year’s learning with regards to proper sentence building, as well as teaching a good bit about how to write stories. Reading is the same as last year – the stories are better this year, and the reading comprehension encouraged by the workbook is excellent. History and Science are okay – I don’t know that I’ll ever find an elementary history and science book that I’m really excited about.

Math was my big decision this year. Ali has always been good at math, but super slow. And slow math is tedious math. I wanted to find a happy balance this year – a book that taught her mental strategies without being completely based on manipulatives, because I knew Noah would lose those and I’d get tired of finding them within the first two days.

Plus, my brain just doesn’t work that way.

The BJU Math seemed to hit that balance well, and I have really liked it. It has taught Ali some fantastic mental strategies without relying on visual cues, and it seems to be going much better so far this year.

…although I could do without them over-spiritualizing it.


It’s MATH, people. I love Jesus but let’s not make Him cheesy by inserting Him into our word problems.

After sharing the above picture with my neighbor Renee, she texted back a revised version of the problem:

“Anna handed out 15 tracts. Four of her friends are allowed to watch Glee. Three don’t say swear words but never go to Church. Five were baptized as infants, Four walked the aisle when they turned eight. How many are going to heaven?”

Everyone needs neighbors like mine.

Handwriting is still a struggle, and I am in the process of enrolling Ali with a Handwriting Without Tears expert to help with that – updates to come later. Her spelling, however, has progressed beautifully, giving me hope that she also is a natural speller.

For Geography, we have a few iPad games, and have also really enjoyed United States Top Trumps.


Top Trumps is a simple and fun British card game with dozens of different genres. A blog reader, Jennifer, sent Ali her first Top Trumps cards (they were the Hello Kitty variety), and we got completely addicted to the game. I was pretty excited when I found these on Amazon with all sorts of interesting state facts so I had an excuse to play and call it school.

For bible, we’re doing several different things (NOT including math), but a lot of it revolves around Awanas at our church, as Noah is in Cubbies and Ali is in Sparks this year.


They’re both learning a lot, and as an added bonus, Chris and I have every Wednesday evening to run together while they’re enjoying their classes.


Ignore the bad running selfie – just note the blissful happiness of a couple finding one hour a week alone together.

I’m still using and quite happy with my ever-evolving planning spreadsheet (if you’d like it, email me – I share), and yes – I work really hard to keep my achievement stickers in such tight order.


Also, it should be noted that I always fill out my planner AS we’re doing school, not beforehand. I don’t believe in erasing, and can’t handle the pressure of pre-planned achievement.

Since Noah is going to preschool three days a week, I find myself out of the house more than usual, so Ali has gotten to experience school in alternate locations, such as the Vestavia library,


The downtown library,

Birmingham Public Library

And Birmingham’s hippest coffee shop, Urban Standard.


She is a fan. Especially of the chocolate milk.

Also, Ali and I have started running together one day a week, and she’s shocked me at how good she is.


She can run ten minute miles, an entire mile without stopping, and so far up to three miles with a few breaks. And we’re enjoying the activity, as well as the fact that we’re making multiple scientific discoveries along the way, such as this mutant giant caterpillar,


And this mysterious but amazingly in-tact jawbone.


We always research our finds afterward and even take them with us if they’re not alive.

Since we run to a candy store (bribery is powerful, people), we left the jawbone on the trail where we found it to pick up on the way back. The sweet girl at the fancy candy store in Mountain Brook Village didn’t bat an eyelash when I asked “can we have an extra bag? We found a cool jawbone we want to pick up on the way home.”

That find was especially interesting, because who knew that you could identify its animal of origin just by the number of different kinds of teeth?

I didn’t.

I sent a picture of it to a Veterinarian blog reader, Elizabeth, and to our local Science Center, McWane. Both returned the same answer:


Elizabeth even sent us textbook information about animal dentistry so that we could study more deeply, thereby making science way more fun than usual.

And really, I was quite relieved that it was an Opossum. Because the alternatives seemed much more disgusting.

Dog? Gross. Cat? Tragic. Opossum? Awesome.

In conclusion, I’d say the year is going fairly well so far. As would, apparently, Ali.


(I ignore spelling mistakes when surrounded by loving sentiments.)

Oh – and the answer is three. I’ve locked myself in the bedroom three times.

As always, I am open to any and all homeschooling questions. Feel free to ask yours in the comments.

15 thoughts on “The Grade of Two.

  1. I love reading about how your homeschooling is going. We use Time4learing (I hate the use of the 4) for part of our school work but my oldest has informed me that he is now 10 and too old to do “silly elementary school work”. He has used a few ipad apps and found it wasn’t just the boasting of a pre-pre teen. He was able to answer over 80% of the algebra questions for high school. Now I am scrambling to adjust his curriculum.
    Would this count as an official request for your planner?

    1. Sure! My planner is attached. I tweak it a bit every week, so the latest week is my latest version.

      Best of luck finding great curriculum for your ten-year-old! Fortunately, there is a LOT of stuff out there now.

    1. The girl loves an apostrophe. We’ve had lots of talks about them to CUT DOWN on her apostrophe usage. She even took the liberty of adding an unnecessary one to my writing the other day.

  2. I believe that’s an Imperial Moth Caterpillar. :) I’m no expert, just found one as well and googled around earlier today.

  3. Glad you guys are off to a great start! That looks like good curriculum. History is our favorite over here, and the girls like Science but I don’t. It just seems like I have to drag out a bunch of stuff, make a mess, and then clean it up to “prove” a very small point.

    Oh and my sister-in-law told me about this website that is free and teaches them fast facts. I really like it and it’s a great “entry task” for her to get going on while I fix breakfast. It’s making our math lessons go faster since she’s starting to get the facts memorized and doesn’t have to think about each one.

  4. I’ve been wanting to tell u that Luke & I have enjoyed the BJU 1st grade reading books you loaned to us. There are some odd stories, and I’m not terribly crazy about the worktext, but it’s amazing how much Luke’s reading has improved in the 2 1/2 months we’ve been using it! I still have Ali’s 1st grade worktext that I need to return to you.
    I know you said you’ve enjoyed the 3rd grade reading books, how about 2nd grade? I think Luke will be ready for 2nd grade after Christmas.
    Also, I got Luke the Apologia “Exploring Creation with Astronomy” science textbook this year, and we both love it! We read a page or two a couple times a week & we’ve learned so much. The activities/experiments at the end of each chapter are for the most part easy & quick, and they only require household items. I thought he may be too young for Apologia, but it’s perfect for him.

  5. We started using BJU math this year for both my 2nd and 4th grader and it is my favorite curriculum yet. I feel like it introduces new concepts slowly enough that it helps alleviate my older child’s anxiety. I also like that it reviews concepts without taking a ton of time for review. I also haven’t found anything I love for history, so I have decided that having them read historical fiction books and then following their interest from there to do a little extra research is adequate for the time being. I know i have learned more from reading historical fiction then I ever learned in school. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  6. Hope the school year is still going strong for you. We started out using Horizons for math but have since moved on to teaching textbooks which I absolutely love because it is CD based (My daughter hates workbooks) and the teacher does a great job of explaining math concepts way better than me!.

    I would love to have your school planner spreadsheet.if you are still sharing!

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