We’ve planned our first semester for the school year for this year with a little more classes and a little less planning. Here are some of the things we’ll be doing:

Language Arts will consist of reading, writing, and grammar.  I’m not sure where public speaking fits in, so I put it with Language Arts. We found some great books at their levels and they will read one or two of those each month.  August’s books were Series of Unfortunate Events (Book 1) for Signa and Frannie K. Stein for Will.  September for Signa is Diary of a Young Girl (did you know that that is the real name of Diary of Anne Frank?  I didn’t…).  William will read Captain Underpants.  For writing, each day they will add to a story and each month they will write a paper of some theme.  They will also be part of a writing club where all writing is tracked and they learn new writing techniques and ideas.  For grammar, they will continue learning (and re-learning the Latin and Greek roots, as well as work through Warner’s grammar with me.  Signa needs to finish her grammar book from last year and Will can work on Study Island’s language arts for practice and filler.  For public speaking, they will do their book club report (first one was today) and take the presentation project for 4-H (Will is technically too young for it, but I’m going to have him secretly accidentally learn from it).  They will both give 4-H presentations at Presentation Day.

Math will be online programs this year for the children.  They are self-correcting and let you move on when you are done or slow down when you need more help.  That was an issue with the books we used last year--- too much repetition when they already “got it.”  So Aleks math for Signa for this year and William will do 2nd grade math in August and September (he got halfway through most of 2nd grade math last year) and start Aleks math for 3rd grade in October (or earlier if I find he’s ready).

Science is chemistry this year with Jenny, our homeschooling hero.  Jenny has a lot on the agenda:  Matter, Properties of Matter, Physical and Chemical Properties, Pure Substances & Mixtures, States of Matter and Changes of State, Intro to Energy, Temperature, Thermal Energy and Heat, Atom, Periodic Table, Electron and Chemical Bonding, Bonding, Chemical Reactions, Organic Chemistry, Nuclear Reactions, Solutions, Acids, Bases and Salts, and pH.  For science they will also be in small animals class and Signa will be teaching a class about insects.

History will continue Story of the World, but Marc is going to take the topic and go with items about that, rather than reading the text.  So if the topic is Cleopatra, for instance, they will watch Brainpop, movies, and explore that topic, rather than reading the (boring at times) text.  They will also do family history which will introduce timelines of history and other events in history to learn about. 

Art is different this year as, for the first time in over 5 years, they will not go to Angela’s art class.  We decided that William really needs to be in karate.  He’s watched it all these years and loves it.  The expense, though, was just too much.  So this year we decided to stop art and give karate to William.  To make up for this, we will do a lot of crafts and also introduce the production of art cards, especially for the reading they do.  They made them for book club today and I think we can have fun with these.  They will also continue with guitar lessons (Signa) and piano lessons (Will).  Signa will be taking a movie making class on Saturday mornings and both kids are taking an introduction to theater class.  So hopefully they won’t miss art class too much.

Physical Education is easy this year.  Karate for both and swimming for both.  William also wants to do Little League this year, so we’ll try to squeeze that in!

So there you have it.  Mascot Manor Academy for the first semester of the 2013-2014 school year. I’m going to try to keep better tabs for you all here on Mascot Manor of what we do each week.  We have to document it all for the charter school we work through so may as well document for all of us! 


The first I remember of Macduff is walking him in Palo Alto, California through a street fair in a park with my Aunt Sue, who proceeded to buy me a Kermit the Frog puppet.  At three and a half years old, I was a big Sesame Street fan and I loved Kermit, which is likely why I remember this walk so much.  However, during this walk I believe it was more likely that the two-year-old big yellow Labrador-Retriever was walking usthrough a street fair, than us walking him.

When I was four we moved to a ranch in Portola Valley, California and Macduff came with us. He was the leader of dogs at the ranch-- always guiding them, calming them, and punishing them when necessary. He was a soft gentle soul, training the new pups what was right and what was not right.

One year we inherited a puppy named Fluffy. Fluffy was a small, black puff of a pup and Duff was his hero. He would follow Duff everywhere.  As they lounged on the front porch together, he would chew on the scruff of Duff’s neck below his bottom jaw. If Duff got up to chase after a deer or some other critter, Fluffy would hang on, wagging in the wind while Duff performed his critter chasing duties.

Duff moved with us from ranch to ranch to house.  When I was a teen, we moved to a house in Portola Valley.  Duff slept in my room.  He was older then and no longer an outside dog, preferring to spend most of his time inside with his human family.  Since most of our family time was around the kitchen table, Duff spent most of his time under the table.  At bedtime, he’d get up and make the torturous trek across the hardwood floor of the hallway and round the corner to my room.  My door didn’t close all the way, so he’d bang his head against it to open it.  Then he’d curl up on the carpeted floor of my room to guard me while I slept.

One summer, when I was 16 and Duff was 17, I went traveling with my best friend’s family.  Duff chose that time to depart our world.  My brother, Todd, shared these words about that evening:

The night Duff died I spent about an hour with him in the kitchen.  I rubbed each paw and his arthritis was not as bad as normal. I was very superstitious and gave each paw equal amounts of attention.   When I got done with Duff I got up and he licked me.  This never happened.  As you know, Duff did not lick anyone ever.  I remember thinking it was odd but did not read into it.  Dad was in the den and Mom went to bed to read.  As I walked to my room Duff followed me, again he never did this before.  He slept under the kitchen table.  I walked him back to his spot.  He laid down and I retreated to my bed.  Less than one minute later he was thrashing about in his spot. I ran to him and yelled for Dad, but Duff was gone before he got to him.   Dad took him outside and buried him next to the chicken shed.  We stayed up for awhile at the table in silence.  I was grateful to have had his last moments spent with me and I will remember every detail of that night forever.