Sunday, December 29, 2013

See Ya Later, 2013!

Our time with family has been incredible.  I miss Ohio terribly.  And I miss my nieces and nephews about as much as my heart can miss someone.  I won't spend time this evening dreaming of a day when I could have Aunt 'Cole sleepovers with forts made of sheets, homemade cookies, and staying up late watching movies.  I wish for that so much, though.

Our visit has also been spent with sick kids.  Coughs that keep people awake, sniffles that won't go away, and countless snotty tissues.  The icing on the cake, however, has been an ER visit today with the middle guy and his horrendous ear infection.  He's spent all evening on the couch, skipping dinner, and crying when the medication wears off.  It's been a rough few weeks for my kiddos.

Sad little kid.

So, the beginning of a whole new year is upon us.  A time for reflection of the year that has passed and the one beginning.  I still make New Year's resolutions and flake on nearly all of them.  I still wish to be in better shape, the house to be cleaner, money to be better managed, and school to be the best it's ever been.  I'll keep my personal goals to myself, mostly because I haven't decided on all of them, yet, but I'm hoping to share some new goals regarding our homeschool...as soon as I narrow them down.

We didn't have enough field trips or do enough fun science.  We didn't read enough books or practice enough handwriting.  We followed the curriculum too closely or not enough.  We made plans and bailed on them or simply didn't make any.

How will this year be better?  Maybe it's not a New Year's resolution at all, but a desire to constantly be improving, or merely trying to do so.  Even when things are going well, I don't want to be still and let something amazing pass by.  More importantly, when things aren't going well, I want to take notice and react.  When Adisson couldn't get over his hurdles in math, I found something else that worked.  When Zander got bored with his reading, we tried something new.  But there's more improvement needed in other important areas.

Whether I call them goals or resolutions makes no difference, it still means I want to see some changes.  It's exciting to be offered a new, clean slate.  A new year filled with promise of 365 new days.  This week, I'm going to really focus on what I can do to ensure I'm providing my sons with the best education I can.  So if we need writing homework help, I'm ready to find it.  Over the last month, I've made a point of finding fun science activities for us to do together and I know they want that to continue.  My next blog post will outline the changes I'm hoping to see in our upcoming year.  Until next year...

My guys in their new creeper hoodies!
Happy New Year!



Sunday, December 22, 2013

It's Nearly Christmas and the Kids are Sick

It's finally the week of Christmas!  It's an exciting and magical time of the year! The kids have been looking forward to the season for months.

And now they are all sick.



I thought it would be a brief cold and they'd all be over it in just a few days.

But it's not.  And the clinic is full and appointments are scarce so I'm sure we'll be spending most of our Monday with a hope and prayer that we'll be seen.  It's likely that what they have is viral and has to run its course--leaving me with the process of treating the symptoms in attempts to make them comfortable. Not how I pictured our Christmas going. 

So last week was a pretty nice one, despite the onset of the crud. We did a lot of neat projects together that made them forget they were sick...for a minute. Some of the highlights include making Borax slime, cinnamon ornaments (which failed because I forgot to grease the sheet before baking them), trying our hand at making artificial snow from a dollar store craft kit, and wrapping presents. It was just nice to be with the kids, really with them. Not worried about school work and how much we were getting done (or how much we weren't). It was nice to play, to make, to laugh. We are a pretty close family by nature but there's something about Christmas and creating that really bring us together.

Our Borax slime!  It was cool to make and  fun to squeeze!


This week, we are heading home. Home for me is Ohio, though my children have never really known that as home. Adisson was 1 when we left Ohio for good. The little boys have never lived there. I keep telling Adam that as soon as he retires, we are going home to Ohio. I wonder if that is true. By then, our sons will be grown and likely on their own, making their lives in North Carolina. As much as I want to be near our family, I'll always want to be near my sons.

Make Your Own Snow kit we scored from the Dollar Tree.


Anyway, we are finally breaking for Christmas. As the year draws to a close, I have ideas and plans for next year. I'll discuss my resolutions for 2014 when I write up next week's blog post. I know I want to focus more on science education because it's the one thing we can all do together. I also want to remind myself that there is homeschool help available. I don't have to do it all on my own. But more on that next week. 

For now, though, I wish you the merriest of Christmases.  If you are fortunate enough to live near extended family, take a minute to recognize the blessing you have been afforded. Forming an Army family is truly a gift and the best way to make it through the difficulties military families face; but that never really takes the place of your family.  Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins are so important and are missed when separated by distance.  I'm so beyond excited to spend time with our family this week.  Even with sick kiddos.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mama Needs to Slow Down!

Around this time each year, I start pondering my goals for the upcoming year.  I still call them New Year's Resolutions, but I've really been trying to focus on setting a few attainable goals.  Next year's goal is going to be time management.  I stink at managing my time well.  Some days, I'm a rock star.  Other days, I'm wandering around the house in my pajamas when Adam gets home from work.  That's embarrassing to admit, but I appreciate a little transparency now and then.

I know that Christmas falls on December 25th every single year.  It's not like Easter...who shows up anywhere from the beginning of March to the end of April.  Nope.  It's the 25th of December, every single year.  Yet, here it is--9 days before Christmas--and I've got gifts I haven't purchased and handmade gifts I haven't even begun.  That's when I get aggravated at my poor planning skills.  It also doesn't help that I'm a "Yes Man."  Need something done?  I can do it!  I rarely say no.  I can't help it, I guess.



Anyway, this weekend, we were so blessed with the ability to visit Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.  It was a lovely place to see, but sadly, we didn't get to do much exploring.  The weather was very dreary and filled with days of cold temperatures and rain.  Not a lot of sightseeing was done.  We did get to check out a super neat toy shop and also a really interesting shop of Scottish goodies which was especially nice for Adam since his family hails from Scotland (still working on that ancestry stuff!).  It was nice to get away for a few days, even if my dream trip to Williamsburg wasn't as exciting as I had hoped.

My little guys with a very large Scottish bear.  


Our school schedule remains light as we spend time working on crafts and Christmas projects.  Here's a rundown of our week of homeschooling:

Math

  • Adisson learned a little about geometry, algebra, and multiplication.
  • Zander is learning to tell time.


Handwriting

  • Adisson is still working on correct cursive handwriting.
  • Zander is still working on lowercase letters.


Reading

  • Adisson spent time re-reading Henry and Ribsy (though, I'm not sure why).
  • Zander is working on reading compound words and early reader books.


Christmas Unit Study
We learned about Mary and Joseph and their trek to Bethlehem.  We learned about Gabriel and his visit to Mary.  We learned about Caesar Augustus and the census.  We read together and prayed together.  It was lovely.

Crafts
We did a few Christmas crafts.  The boys LOVED gluing cotton balls to Santa's face.

Not a great photo, but a neat-o craft!



Science
We did an AWESOME homeschool science project!  Wanting to find something to capture the interest of my guys, I found a cool experiment while browsing around my Google+ that mentioned making snowflakes from Borax.  We tried it, it worked, it was so cool. :)

How awesome is this?!
This week, we'll try to finish up our unit study and work on some more fun Christmas stuff.  I'm a teeeeensy bit overwhelmed with my to-do list, but I'm hoping my little guys can help me with some of it.  I also want to take a minute to remember that this is a magical time of year and I want the boys to remember the fun stuff we did...not that mom was running around like a headless chicken.  I'll leave you with a picture of my guys with Santa, the first one in years!

My handsome fellas and Santa.



Sunday, December 8, 2013

Homeschooling During the Christmas Season

I love Christmastime!  I feel like there's so many things we could do each day.  Typically, I see that as on opportunity, though some days I feel a bit overwhelmed because we could be doing so much more...thank you, Pinterest.  This year, we've decided to incorporate a unit study into our homeschool for the month of December.  I like the idea of all of us working together.

Last Week in Our Homeschool

Last week, we got started on our unit study and our Christmas lapbook.  We begin with reading together then working on some copywork.  We have time for discussion and questions before we get started on our arts and craft project.  Later in the day, the boys work on their reading and math.  They seem to like the break in our routine.  We will continue school for this week and next before we take our time off for Christmas.

Zander making his snowman picture.

Few things are more precious than brothers working together.


We still find ways to incorporate science education into our discussions.  Last week, our snowman pictures were made by drawing a snowman onto blue construction paper (finally, a use for white crayons!).  We then painted over the paper with a saltwater mixture (made with equal parts of Epsom salt and hot water).  When you painted the water onto the picture, it just looked like the picture was wet.  When it dried, the saltwater mixture crystallized onto the paper.  Our snowmen looked like they were caught in a blizzard!

Social studies has turned into a geography lesson for us as we locate Nazareth and Bethlehem on a map and discuss how the middle east has changed from biblical times into what we know it as today.  The boys enjoy geography and talking about maps.  I suppose that explains why they draw themselves a map for nearly every adventure they find themselves imagining for the day.

This week in our Homeschool

Well, truthfully, it will be much of the same.  And I love it!  We'll continue on with our unit study and lapbook, while adding in math and reading.  We'll find a cool science experiment/project to do and incorporate some homeschool social studies, as well.

On Thursday afternoon, we are attending a Children's Christmas Party at Adam's shop.  The kids are very excited!  We went last year, but Jaxon was terrible so we had to leave early.  Plus, Adam was deployed at the time so I was wrangling the kiddos in a VERY hectic environment all by myself.  But the kids just remember the fun of it so they are looking forward to it quite a bit.

This weekend, we are VERY happy to be heading to Williamsburg, Virginia!  I've never been and I cannot wait to go, especially during this season!  The kids always get excited to stay in a hotel so it doesn't take much to entice them.  Hopefully, for next week's homeschool update post, I'll have some lovely Williamsburg pictures to share with you!

We have several Christmas traditions in our family and the kids love them.  I also want them to know that at Christmastime each year, Mom made school special.  I want to learn in ways we don't typically utilize, I want to talk more, be together more, read more.  I want the days leading up to Christmas to feel magical and special.  I want them to know that there is far more to this season than gifts.  When they think of Christmas, I want them to think of love.  That is my wish for this year and every year.  May it be yours as well.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Homeschooling with a Chronic Illness




Four years ago, I was given an answer to a lifelong question.  The answer was an autoimmune disorder and the question was “Why have I been sick my entire life?” At that time, I was in the homeschooling trenches with my 2nd grader, preschooler, and new baby on my hip.  Truthfully, the answer gave me so much relief and comfort that I could finally see how I could juggle life with an illness.  Before I began my monthly blood treatment, I was sick more often than not.  When the treatment finally began, I could focus on the side effects of the disorder as opposed to just being ill all of the time.

My health has dramatically improved over the last three years; however, the afflictions that come with the disorder make themselves known.  I battle constant fatigue, joint pain and swelling, and other internal ailments.  Some days, getting out of bed takes all of the energy I can muster.  On those days, I know school is going to be on the lighter side.

How can I cope with a chronic illness and maintain a homeschool schedule?  The easy answer is that I plan for it.  I know there are days that I am not going to be able to jump into a big project or experiment.  Fortunately, we use a curriculum that requires as much involvement as I want to give or as little as I can spare.  On a normal day, I have two boys working on their Time4Learning  lessons at the same time so I can answer questions, read to them, or offer any clarifications.  On the days I cannot monitor them as closely, they work on reviewing lessons or moving forward with self-directed learning that doesn't require as much of my assistance.

I also have a checklist of activities for us to do when I need to be able to rest more.  I have set aside books to read together and keep some interesting documentaries in our Netflix queue.  We enjoy crafts, so my oldest son will work with his younger brothers on some easier, seasonal projects.  I save some of our homeschool favorites for those days, as well, like Play-doh, wax sticks, puzzles, etc.

Most importantly, I realize that I need to allow myself some grace.  I remind myself that a day here or there is not going to be so detrimental to my children that I won’t be able to make up the time lost.  If they need some additional help from Dad due to my increased need for rest, I've got to ask for it.  I know that science may have to wait until Dad comes home from work or the social studies project of the old west frontier may be put on hold, but my sons are learning something books cannot teach them.  They are learning to be compassionate and understanding.  They are learning to have empathy for those that are sick and learning to care for the family around them.  Isn’t that one of the best parts of homeschooling anyway?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

It's Christmas Time Pretty Baby!

Oh my goodness, it's been a busy few days!  Our Thanksgiving dinner (on Wednesday) with our very large, extended military family (my husband's unit) was nearly derailed due to a flat tire on the van.  After that situation was taken care of and we made it to the DFAC, our middle son got sick on the way home...in the car.  Of course. :)

How We Celebrated Last Week

Our own family dinner on Thanksgiving Day was perfectly wonderful.  My husband and oldest son were very helpful with preparing food and the little boys were very helpful by watching the parade on TV.  We skype'd with my in-laws a few times throughout the day and the boys were pretty excited about that.  I'm pretty sure the grandparents liked it even more.

Not the best shot, but my boys on Thanksgiving!
Friday, my oldest son turned 11.  He's a pretty awesome kid and we're so blessed by him each day.  We had a laid back day of celebrating and me reminding him (again) that our trip to Orlando was part of his birthday gift.  He did end up with some really cool Lego sets and the newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book so he was very happy.  He and I took off in the afternoon to FINALLY go see Catching Fire, the second movie in the Hunger Games trilogy.  It was a good movie and it was good to hang out with him.  He typically enjoys solo time with Dad, so it's nice that we have something to share, just the two of us.

Happy  11th Birthday, Adisson!
On Saturday, THE BIG GAME had finally arrived.  Ohio State vs. Michigan.  I'd been waiting all season to see an awesome OSU football game and we'd been planning a party to celebrate the day since April.  Friends of ours are die hard Michigan fans so we invited them over to see the game.  It was a nail biter and came down to the last minute. I'm thrilled to tell you...Ohio State prevailed.  :)

Mmmmmm, Buckeyes!!

We also put up our Christmas tree!  I'm one of those people that take photos of the tree and share them.  I was really trying to point out how cute it is when kids just hang ornaments wherever without rhyme or reason.  I'll share our photo here as well.

Merry Christmas!

Don't want to leave out our Star Wars Stockings!
So what does all of that have to do with school?  Nothing.  :)  That's how our week went.  We made a ton of memories.  Some situations weren't so funny when we were in the middle of them, but already we laugh when we tell them.  We were reminded that it's difficult to be away from family, but it's such a gift to all be together for a holiday.  Last Thanksgiving, Adam was deployed.  He's missed several Thanksgivings.  This year, though, the five of us were thankful together.

How we reach stuff on the top shelf! 

What We Plan on Doing in December

As December falls upon us, we'll have lighter school days.  We'll still read, do math, practice handwriting, but we'll add in crafts, baking, and hopefully a few field trips.  We'll revisit our art curriculum and spend some time making our own art, which will be great for my right-brained visual learner.  We'll count down the days until Christmas and until we finally head back to Ohio for a long overdue visit.  It's going to be a great month!

Didn't want to leave Zander out since there were pictures of his brothers.  Isn't he cute?!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thankful for Family

Last week was an odd week for us--at home and in our homeschool.  Adam was away for some training for the week so everything was kind of "off."  The kids would ask about him frequently and want an exact time of his return home.  I knew the week would be a little scattered.  This week will also be different than a typical week because we're working on a Thanksgiving study on Monday and Tuesday before taking off for the rest of the week.

Recap Time

Zander has been doing very well with his lessons lately.  He does much better with his online reading lessons than he does with anything else I've tried.  We still read books aloud together, but he gets frustrated a little quicker when he's reading beside me.  When he's reading his lessons online, he's wearing headphones (to drown out the noise of his brothers) and I think it gives him the feeling that no one else is there but him.  We'll continue to work on his confidence together.  His math skills, however, are amazing.  He picks up things I'd have never thought he'd be able to grasp so quickly.

Jaxon is busy each day, playing with Legos and listening to stories.  We play games, color pictures, and put puzzles together.  I can't get him to sit still for long.  And that's ok.  :)  His time of sitting and listening will come.  For now, though, it's time to be three years old and play the day away.

Over the last week, Adisson finished up a big social studies unit and took his unit test.  He was a little apprehensive (because he hates the word test) but he completed it and did pretty well.  We're still slowly chugging along through an electricity unit in Science but he really needs his Dad's help on a few things so hopefully we can work on that in the coming days.  His language arts lessons have been about adjectives and adverbs.  He's done ok, but when he's not interested, it is hard for him to be excited about learning.

When You Need Homeschool Help

We've had to take a break from Time4Learning's math lessons for Adisson.  They are great lessons and I love the curriculum, but Adisson struggles in math quite a bit and was finding the lessons too advanced.  We have the option to adjust his math grade level based on abilities, but even that wasn't helping.  We started using Life of Fred a few months ago and I think we may have found something that will work for him.  It's a gentle approach to math and the lessons read like a story.  He's a great reader, so I thought that would be a good fit.  It is.

As a homeschool mom, I need to know when something isn't working and when we need to fill a void.  It took me several years of trying various curricula for our homeschool before I felt like we had finally found "it" in Time4Learning.  We don't supplement it much, aside from Adisson's math and adding in our own reading and handwriting for each boy.  If we needed additional help in a specific subject or review of a difficult topic, there is so much available to homeschooling families today.  From SAT essay writing help to those with high school students to science videos for visual learners to multiplication games for struggling students, there is so much available with a few keystrokes.  If you need help, find it!

Thanksgiving

This week is finally Thanksgiving and I haven't necessarily been looking forward to it.  It's my favorite holiday, but we haven't been able to "go home" for the last few years. With no one coming over, we will be dining alone this week.  All month, I've been sad about that and had decided I wasn't cooking a big dinner for just us.  (Side note: we'll be having a VERY large dinner with our military family on Wednesday.)  When my oldest found out that there wouldn't be turkey at home, he was pretty upset.  Then, I realized it's not about me, it's about us.  While I'm sad we won't be spending my most favorite day with all of our loved ones in Ohio, we're so very fortunate to spend it together...all five of us here in North Carolina. And I'm very thankful for that.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cub Scouts in our Homeschool




In case you didn't know, we're very involved in our Cub Scout Pack.  Adam is the Cubmaster and Arrow of Light Den Leader.  I'm the Tiger Cub Den Leader and Advancement Coordinator.  Aside from those roles, Adam and I are very involved in other Cub Scout committees and nearly every event.  With a house full of boys, two of which are currently Cub Scouts, it is an activity that we can all participate in together.

However, it's not just for fun.  As a homeschool mom, I use Cub Scouts to our benefit in school.  Each rank (Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos) has a handbook full of achievements.  A lot of those activities are done during den meetings, but many are not, leaving them as additional work to be done at home.  For example, Zander has 40 electives that can be done this year and nearly all of them can be repeated several times.  Every time he completes 10 electives, he earns a bead to wear on his uniform.  As far as Webelos go, that's a whole 'nother ball game.  :)

There is also the big world of Belt Loops and Pins.  There are 25 academic belt loops and 28 sports belt loops.  Each belt loop as a coordinating pin.  Ok, so perhaps I've lost you.

What are Belt Loops and Pins?

Belt loops are metal slides that slip onto the Cub Scout belt.  Each one represents a different activity and will have a picture and the name of the activity on the belt loop.  A pin is a small triangular pin that is to be worn on the Cub Scout "C" and then on the brag vest.  But, our boys wear their pins on their hats.  The Cub Scout earns a belt loop when he's completed three specific requirements for each academic or sport activity.  The pin is earned after receiving the belt loop and completing five additional activities from a list of approximately ten extra requirements.  It sounds a little confusing, but it's not so bad after you get started!  Check out this link to read more information.

Pin on the left, belt loop on the right.



How Do You Use That in Your Homeschool? 

This month, I wanted the boys to each complete a belt loop at home.  After reading through some of the belt loops, I chose the Citizenship belt loop for Zander to complete.  Here are the requirements:

1.  Develop a list of jobs you can do around the home.  Chart your progress for one week.
2.  Make a poster showing things you can do to be a good citizen.
3.  Participate in a family, den, or school service project.

Earlier this year, Zander had received credit for the first requirement.  As a Tiger, he was to work on his responsibilities at home by doing chores.  In addition to just doing the chore, we made a very simple chart to check off each day that he completed his chore.  As a Pack, we participated in a pack and district wide service project of collecting school supplies to be sent to an underprivileged country via the US Army (gotta love good connections!).  The only remaining requirement on the list was to create a poster showing how to be a good citizen.  


We actually used that poster as part of his Leave No Trace award, but we also made a smaller poster of other ways you can be a good citizen (I just don't have a photo).  One afternoon, we worked  together to make collages about America.  While working, we talked about why good citizenship is important; a topic that is not just a discussion point but a way of life as a military family.  So, in an afternoon, we made a collage (art is fun!), discussed citizenship (social studies lesson), and completed a Cub Scout achievement.  Having earned his belt loop, Zander is very close to receiving his Citizenship pin and after this lesson, Adisson had earned his pin.  

My almost-Boy-Scout has been very busy, as well.  He's trying to complete all of the academic belt loops AND pins before he crosses over to Boy Scouts in a few months.  He only has 5 belt loops remaining and 7 pins.  This afternoon, as part of our school day, he's hoping to finish up a few pins.  He's completed several of the sports belt loops but sometimes those are more difficult based on what is available locally.  For example, snowboarding is a little more difficult to earn due to the fact that we live in Eastern North Carolina.  Not impossible, but difficult.  

With so many different topics available, it's easy to fit a belt loop or pin requirement into our day.  We tend to work on Cub Scout achievements on Tuesday.  We meet on Tuesday night and I spend most of the day making sure everyone has their stuff together for the meeting.  Between two dens, two boys, and four uniforms, it's a busy day.  

Cub Scouts fits into our homeschool lifestyle pretty seamlessly.  If you are considering joining Scouts, I think you should definitely check out a local Pack/Troop.  For us, it's a very worthwhile investment of our time and energy.  And as a plug to our own pack, here's a link!


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Let's Just Play with Legos Everyday

Last week, we had to get back in the swing of things after an awesome vacation.  That was difficult for everyone.  The boys just wanted to play with Legos and I just wanted to sleep.

Time for Learning

Fortunately, though, some school work was completed.  Adisson is finishing up his Social Studies lessons on early American politics.  He enjoys reading about it and learning about the presidents, but I think he's ready to move on.  We have a goal to learn the president's names in order this year so we've been working on that while going through his lessons.  In Science, we're still learning about electrical energy.  I say that "we" are learning because I absolutely mean that.  Adisson is not the only member of this family who is learning how electricity works when we're working on science.  It's me, too!

Language arts is always a fussy subject with my oldest.  He doesn't particularly enjoy learning about adjectives.  However, he has recently started his own blog so I'm hoping that some of the things we've been talking about all year are put into practice while he's writing.  I think that could be classified as wishful thinking, however.  Aside from english, his spelling work seems to be going rather well.  He does a great job on his spelling lessons and always aces his spelling test online.  I heard something a few weeks ago that has stuck with me.  It was said that a great reader is not always a good speller but a good speller is always a great reader.  Hearing that motivated me to make spelling a bigger priority in our homeschool.

Zander is still chugging along in the first grade.  He loves his math assignments and I'm assuming it's because he's pretty good at math.  He has been enjoying his language arts lessons and I've seen a big improvement in his reading fluency and comprehension.  He always says, "But, Mom, I can't read," and then reads the book we are working on together.  :)  He's not a very strong reader, but he's improving every day.  I see new connections being made when we pick up a book we've read before and I see his processing skills get better all the time.  I'm very pleased with his reading progress, but I know he'd like to read better.

ZANDER TURNS 7!

Speaking of Zander, my middle son turned SEVEN today!  His entry into this world was a very dramatic one.  Zander loves to hear the story. I just fell head over heels in love with him the second I saw his face.  He was baby that had given me the most difficult pregnancy, the baby I was so worried I wouldn't love as much as I loved my first baby (turns out....you do love them just as much!), the only baby I hoped was a boy....that baby was finally here.  :)  And that baby is now 7.

One of his Lego gifts.  Will add picture when he finishes the build!


As a homeschool mama, the days can seem like they run together.  You don't get "the break" your friends do when they send their kids to public school.  You are "on" from the second you wake up until the second you go to sleep.  The kids, the house, your spouse, school, outside activities, yourself, etc. all need a piece of your time everyday.  Sometimes, it seems like maybe it would be easier if they went away to school.  Maybe then you could have a moment to sit, to breath.  But those thoughts are fast and fleeting.  I don't want to miss a second of it all.  When they learn to read, when the math finally clicks, when they wanna sleep in (and I can say yes), when they get to spend their time learning about something that truly interests them, when they get to play with Legos for a few hours each day, when they turn to their brother and say "Let's play together."  Those are the moments you get to have.  What a blessing.  :)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Vacation Recap

Whew!  What a spectacular week!

A few months ago we took a vacation to the beach and I loved it.  I love being near the water.  I don't even have to be in it, necessarily, but just being close to the ocean is like a salve for my soul.  I needed it.  And then we took the kids vacation, which was the exact opposite.  I don't think I've ever walked so much in my life.  We hit up a two day convention, three theme parks (we even went to one on two different days!), and Downtown Disney.  By the ride home, the kids were in hibernation mode.  We spent nearly 10 hours in the van and Jaxon only started yelling ten minutes from the house.  This weekend was very mellow so we could recuperate.

School Work on Vacation?

We didn't do any school work last week.  I didn't have them log into their online lessons or practice math drills.  No handwriting worksheets or science experiments.  However, they learned so much that I'm fairly certain their heads have expanded from the newfound knowledge! We learned something everyday.

Looking at sharks.


If I had to pick the most educational field trip we took, I think it would be SeaWorld.  We learned a little about dolphins and their playtime habits; but we couldn't convince them to come near us so we could pet them (they were about to be fed at the opposite side of the pool).  We learned about the differences between seals and sea lions.  We learned about the hazardous life of a sea turtle in a 3D movie dome.  We visited the penguin habitat and realized quickly that it was very cold!  I think we learned a little about heat energy during that part of a trip as the boys started rubbing their arms very forcefully to warm up!  We couldn't stay there too long, despite a cute penguin audience.




SO MUCH FUN!

We had the best time on our trip and I'm so glad we went.  I've posted about the places we visited and what we did if you are interested in reading those posts.  Our vacation gave us time to connect as a family without all of the distractions we face at home.  It showed Adam and I that we need to be more involved in all the Minecrafting that is done around here.  It gave me a new idea of some lapbooking that we can do together for school; though, that just added a huge project to my neverending pile of to-do's.  It was a great adventure that I hope they remember for a long time.  I know I will!




Saturday, November 9, 2013

Whoa, LegoLand!

Wowza!  I had no idea LegoLand would be so awesome.  Sure, it's Legos and the boys LOVE Legos, but oh my goodness!  It was incredible!  Thanks to a HUGE discount on a scheduled Homeschool Day and Adam getting in free because he's military (thank you LegoLand for honoring the military!), we were able to see LegoLand at an amazing price!

There were Legos everywhere!  The kids went nuts for all the cool Lego sculptures!  There was a cute little lady made out of Duplo blocks near the entrance presumably waiting on the bus.  There was a HUGE Lego dragon that actually sprayed water!  We saw a handsome chef outside the cafe.  There was a tourist and his daughter picking up some cool Lego sets in front of the gift shop.  That was all in the first few minutes of walking in the gate!



There was several rides for the kids to enjoy and they absolutely did!  There was a great playground staffed by LegoLand employees, which I loved!  There were hidden Lego creatures near trees, on top of buildings, sitting on signs.  There was a movie theater where we caught a quick show in 4D.  So not only did we get to wear neat-o 3D glasses, we were also splashed on, snowed on, sneezed on, and had wind blowing around us.

Adisson rode at Zander's request.  What a nice big brother!

Jaxon's favorite ride!


There were shows to see, namely one about Brickbeard the Pirate.  It featured some very talented water skiers and fast speedboats.  The kids loved the show!  There was some entertainment by a very funny deckhand and Lego parrot beforehand, so it was nice that we got there early to grab a good seat and get a few laughs.

Don't fall!


Our favorite part, however, was trading minifigures.  We brought six Lego guys from home and had them with us during our trip.  Near the end of the day, we realized we had so much fun on rides that we had forgotten to trade them!  Each LegoLand employee has a nametag and nearly all of them wear Lego minifigures on their nametag.  You simply ask if you can trade and they swap minifigures with you!  Sometimes, they are really neat combinations of different minifigures so you end up with something you wouldn't have been able to purchase!  We traded all of our minifigures but also purchased *ahem* several others to trade as well.

We also decided to take home a souvenir from LegoLand.....a big Lego haunted house.  It was still on sale from Halloween and Adam really wanted it!  It was the biggest piece we've ever purchased so the boys were VERY anxious to get home and get it put together.  Adisson suggested making a time lapse video of the build and Adam gave it a shot.  I think it turned out AWESOME!  Check it out below!


We truly enjoyed our trip to LegoLand.  I so wish there was one closer as we'd undoubtedly be passholders and go all the time!  How fortunate you Floridians are with your proximity to what might be the coolest place on earth!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Our Trip to MineCon

I thought I was a pretty cool mom already.  We eat McDonald's, which is apparently the same as admitting we eat directly from a dumpster.  The kids can have candy, soda, and chips; all in moderation of course.  They can watch stupid cartoons, like the ridiculous Uncle Grandpa and the Regular Show.  And they get to participate in their favorite activity....playing video games, particularly Minecraft.

And then my Cool Mom status was elevated to its all-time high with one simple promise.  The question was "Mom, if MineCon ever comes to the East Coast, can we go?"  The answer was an ignorant yes.  I never thought that this year's convention would be held in Orlando, just 8 hours away.  When the location was announced and he came running into my room to ask, I knew there was no way I could go back on what I said.  Tickets were ridiculously expensive and turned out to be extremely difficult to get for most people that tried.  (My experience with purchasing was very simple but I know we were an anomaly.)  But the days passed, the convention got closer and closer and then we were on our way to Orlando.

Having the ability to take time off from school made the decision to head to Orlando for a week a no-brainer.  I got a super deal on a weeklong resort rental.  Snagged free tickets to SeaWorld thanks to their amazing military appreciation program and through the help of my awesome aunt, we got tickets to LegoLand for the best price ever!  Our headliner on this vacation, however, was MineCon.

MineCon




I wasn't sure how I felt about sitting in a convention center over a two day period listening to people talk about a video game that I didn't like or understand.  Truthfully, I wasn't looking forward to it at all.  As a mom, though, you make sacrifices.  We got up early, donned our Minecraft tees, and headed to the convention.  I won't give you an hourly rundown of the weekend, but I'll go over the highlights.

To my oldest son, the "YouTubers" that were at the convention were his version of meeting real celebrities.  I didn't get it at first.  Then, I realized that these videos are the ones he watches every day, these people are the ones who show him how redstone works, and these people (who are several years my junior) are the people he admires for their awesomeness in his favorite game.  So I get it now.  And we spent several hours waiting in line to get get autographs.

We learned about a lot of things over the weekend.  We sat in on a panel about making videos, one about learning how redstone works (I still have no idea), and heard about the difference Minecraft is making around the world.  I saw my oldest son come alive when we asked questions about the game, the community, the life.  It was more than a convention, it was a validation.

I also realized that I wasn't doing my job as a homeschool teacher by not using this opportunity to my advantage.  Here's a game that many people are using to educate children, a game I have seen firsthand teach my children things I had no idea they were learning and I was doing nothing to capitalize on that!  What a mistake.  But I've changed my mind on that and now I'm ready to learn as much as I can about how the game works and how to use it in our homeschool.  Adam is ready to play.  :)

MineCon was busy and chaotic.  There were so many  people there (and SO MANY that wanted to be there) and it was a little difficult at times to navigate to the next part of your schedule.  The meet and greet sessions were very overwhelmed by fans.  The exhibit hall was packed to the gills with people.  It was unlike anything I've ever done (those homeschool conventions aren't nearly has exciting!).  We'd do every minute of it all over again!  :)  We had a great time as a family and I'm so glad we went.

I'm also writing about different parts of our vacation, look for those posts if you're interested!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Our Ultimate Field Trip

Well, that didn't exactly go as planned.  With all the excitement of Halloween costumes and crafts and preparing for our vacation, school didn't quite go the way I was hoping it would this week.  Ugh.  I feel like I'm either excited from a great week or mopey from a not so great week.  Tell me that's how it goes in your house, too....please.  :)

School was rather light this week.  We did not get to the plant lesson that I talked about a few days ago because we decided the timing wasn't so great.  We're heading out of town and we'd miss most of the excitement of seeing something grow.  We did, however, take a sensory neighborhood walk talking about the sights, sounds, and smells of autumn.  We discussed the animals that make their homes in our woods and played some nature games we found online.

Because Zander is still having a hard time with a few sight words, I wanted him to have some time to work on them this week.  We've tried several different ways to practice the words including doing some jumping jacks while reviewing them (which he likes!), writing them, spelling them with play-doh, and playing an online game to unscramble them.  I think the tricky ones are finally starting to stick.

We are finally heading to Orlando for what the kids are calling the vacation of a lifetime.  Several months ago, my oldest informed me of this year's location for Minecon--Orlando, Florida.  I had apparently promised him that if Minecon was ever held on the east coast that we would go.  Oops.  Open mouth, insert foot.  However, it is a pretty awesome feeling getting to be the best parent in the world for awhile.  That doesn't happen too often around here.

Whatever will we do in Orlando?

Surprisingly enough, we are NOT going to DisneyWorld.  I would like the kids to be a little older before we go.  Since Minecon will be taking up two full days, we have planned a few other day trips for the week while we are there.  Having such enthusiastic Lego lovers in the house demands a trip to LegoLand. Because the tickets were an AMAZING price (of FREE!), we're also hitting up SeaWorld.  That leaves about two days to chill at the resort and hopefully take a drive to the ocean.

What about school?

Yeah, we're not doing any.  :)  No math books, no logging in to Time4Learning, no chapter books (unless packed by the kids themselves).  Does that mean we won't be learning?  Goodness, no!  Minecon is full of seminars that we hope to attend.  LegoLand is definitely an educational field trip (especially since we're going on a Homeschool Day) and we'll get to see animals we've only ever read about at SeaWorld.  Everyday will be full of learning and the cool hands-on learning we haven't had enough of lately.

Psssst.....what exactly is Minecon?

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell ya.  Have you heard of Minecraft?  If you have a son between the ages of 8-17, I'll be surprised if you haven't heard about the game.  :)  I'm sending you to Minecraft's Wiki page for a very detailed explanation.  Each year, there is a Minecraft Convention.  Two days of panels, vendors, and Minecraft fans.  This year, there were 7500 tickets available for the convention.  They were difficult to get your hands on as they sold out mere minutes after each release time (the release times were staggered to allow ample opportunity to purchase) and we managed to get four tickets! (Jaxon is free.)

I'll be updating my blog with events from the week, hopefully from each location we visit.  If you subscribe, you'll get an email each time I update...which makes you a very lucky person! :)

Have an awesome week because we definitely will!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Costumes!!

We had a great time at our Cub Scout Halloween Campfire last night.  Here's a few pictures of our costumes.  Hopefully, I can get a shot of Adam in his tomorrow night! :)


Adisson is V, Zander is a pirate, and Jaxon is a pirate bird.  :)

My little birdie and me as a mechanic.  :)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Awesomeness of Homeschooling

Wowza!

A few weeks ago, a very nice lady from the Associated Press contacted me and asked if I could answer some questions regarding Homeschooling in the Military and I gladly obliged.  I know how those AP articles can take off like wildfire once they are out there and that has definitely been the case this weekend!  Since I'm quoted in the article, I've had several people ask me about getting started homeschooling.  It's been exciting to talk to so many people and share my love of homeschooling!

So if you have found my blog thanks to the article, welcome!  It's nice of you to stop by and check out our homeschool!

News of the Homeschool Kind

Speaking of, last week was a pretty good one!  That's always a nice way to describe a week of schooling the kiddos.  This week, we did not have any polycrystal accidents.  And in case you don't know the story, here's the scoop.  We were working on a science experiment on incredibly awesome polycrystals and how they absorb liquid.  We set up the hall bathroom as our lab with our polycrystal experiment and a celery/food coloring experiment.  Enter Jaxon.  After seeing the crystals grow tremendously in size (now we could plant some seeds in the cups), Jaxon knocks over a cup.  Zander tried to be helpful by (secretly) clearing away the mess...and washing crystals down the drain (just so ya know, the instructions are very clear on one thing about polycrystals: DO NOT WASH POLYCRYSTALS DOWN THE DRAIN!).  Adam had to take the pipes apart under the sink to ensure there weren't polycrystals blocking them.  And that was the end of the bathroom science lab.  This week, we'll try again with the plant lesson...IN THE KITCHEN!

I mentioned we'd spend last week working on sight words and syllables with Zander and we did just that. He's struggling with a few sight words so we'll continue to keep those on his spelling list.  Syllables were easier and coincidentally, Adisson had a lesson reviewing syllables so they worked together.  We've found that clapping out the syllables is the most fun way to learn!  We also continued learning about electrical energy as part of Adisson's science lessons and James Monroe for social studies.

Time for Cub Scouts

Last week was our Pack meeting.  It was exciting because my little guy earned his Bobcat Badge!  Since I'm a Tiger Cub Den Leader, it was extra special because all of "my boys" earned their Bobcat badge!  We do a really neat face painting ceremony that the kids all love.  I don't have a photo of me painting Zander's face (because there are other kids in it and I don't post other kids on my blog) but I do have a picture of him painting mine!  After I finished painting his, he got to paint a white strip down my nose...every kid's favorite part of the ceremony!

Mom's turn!

And as promised, albeit late, here's a photo of my middle guy with his impressive Leave No Trace poster.  Adisson took the photos of Zander depicting each part of the Leave No Trace promise.  In my opinion, he has the coolest poster!

Look closely, you can see his face paint!

And so as not to leave out any of my boys, here's a shot of the three of them.  I apologize for the quality of the photos but my camera skills with a cell phone are clearly lacking. 

My Webelos Scout, my Tiger Cub, and my sweet little monster.

This weekend we were VERY busy getting ready for an exciting trip and putting together Halloween costumes.  I promise there will be photos in the future!  Here's a hint: Adam will finally have a beard!

These kids make me crazy, run me ragged, and wear me out, but this parenting thing is the best part of my life.  :)  Love it!



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Guest Post: Homeschooling and Working, How Those Two Words Can Go Together

This week, I'm featuring an awesome guest post by my pal over at In Training for HIM.  Here's Lil' Momma who is a very happy Mom to three and a busy preschool/homeschool teacher.  She's been blogging for several years but now you can find her at In Training for HIM.  Today, we're going to read about how she combines homeschooling and working.






I would like to thank Nicole for letting me guest blog on her beautiful blog. I am very honored to have this opportunity.  When Nicole and I were trying to choose a topic on what I would blog about the subject that seemed to come up was...

How do you homeschool AND work?

That is a common question asked of me.  We have been homeschooling since 2003.  I have always had a part time job.  But have been working outside the home part time since 2005. I have been very blessed to have an opportunity to bring my child (when I started only had one child) or children to work with me.

In 2003 we started homeschooling with Pre-K.  For the next 2 years I did home daycare. In 2005 I stopped doing home daycare and went to work outside the home. I started to work for a small family business that had the "office" inside the families home.

 photo desk.jpeg


When I started I worked 4 days a week from noon to 5pm. On Wednesdays I would teach co-op and make dinner at our church for about 60 people.   But the key word there is HOME.  I was able to bring Biggun to work with me and he had toys and books to play, the ability to go outside, watch tv or nap.


 photo lukenap.jpeg
Nap time at "work"

I would school in the morning before we went to work using time4learning.com and other hands on activities. At work there was an additional computer (boss's son) and if Biggun did not get his school done he could do it at work.  


 photo riding.jpeg
Playing outside at "work"

When I first started I only had the one child. That changed in 2007 and again in 2008.  I grew closer with this family that I called my boss and they became the God Parents to all three of my children. Their house became more child proofed then my own home. I could not ask for a better job.


 photo GP.jpeg
God Parents

After typed that last sentence I am reminded that I am VERY Blessed. I do have a second part time job. I am an independent contractor for the curriculum that we loved so much, time4Learning.com.  Not only am I able to bring my children to work with me but I am able to choose my own hours (I am a night owl) doing something I love, writing blogs and more.

My kids have only ever known homeschooling and me working. As my children age I am loving that I can school my oldest in the morning, one on one and then my littles (6yr and 4yr) I can school in the evening after dinner. Everyone loves the ability to do things on "OUR" time.  For our family homeschooling and working are two words that go together.


 photo brotherowrk.jpeg

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Eh...

Well, this past week was definitely better than the week before but not by much.  After a monthlong construction hiatus, we had contractors in the house for most of last week.  No matter how hard I try, we don't seem to get much done when there is work going on downstairs.  At this point, I'm just happy anything manages to get done, for school and in the house.

School News

Adisson is really enjoying his science unit of electrical energy.  At one point, similarities of a battery and a magnet were discussed and that prompted the retrieval of our magnet kit and Snap Circuit set.  Adisson and his dad spent a lot of time building various circuits but our favorite was the one that became a radio with music coming out of the speaker.  Zander was more interested in the magnets so we'll be working on magnet lessons this week.  

Zander is getting better at his reading each week.  He gets really excited when we are out in public and he finds a sign that he can read by himself or part of the menu that he's able to understand.  I'm happy that his confidence in reading is growing.  This week we will continue our ongoing review of sight words and add in some discussion of syllables.  

Scout News

We've been very very very busy with Scouts over the last few weeks.  The boys are busy with projects: Adisson working on his Craftsman activity badge and Zander working on his Leave No Trace Award.  The Webelos Craftsman badge is one of the hardest to earn as it's the most time-consuming.  This week, Adisson will be working on two projects that involve the use of a saw.   Zander had to make a poster for his Leave No Trace Awareness project and it turned out amazing!!  I don't have a picture but I'll snap on this week to include here.

The Week Ahead

This week, school will likely be about the same as last week.  I'm hoping that construction here continues as I really want the house to get done soon.  We're all tired of the unfinished look and I'm ready for it to be done so our lives can get back to whatever normal that doesn't include construction.  We will also be working diligently on Halloween costumes!  I'm not sure if everyone has decided on their costume yet, but I'm pretty sure Zander is going to be a "pirate captain" and Jax is going to be a "pirate bird."  I'm pretty excited about both of those costumes because it means I get to make them.  

Stay tuned this week for an awesome guest blog post by my friend Brandy on how to juggle homeschooling with working.  It can be done!  

Sunday, October 13, 2013

One Good Week Followed by the Opposite

Well, that was short lived.

I shouldn't have been so excited about an awesome school week.  This past week was a MESS!  I had my treatment on Wednesday, Adam was off on Friday and we spent time getting ready for this weekend's big Cub Scout Camporee.  It was just not a productive school week and that makes me feel sad and defeated.

This weekend was so very busy.  Sometimes, being a large part of a leadership team is stressful and overwhelming.  I don't want to rant here as it will serve no purpose.  Instead, I can talk about my sons and how proud I am of them.  In the busy-ness of our day to day, it can be easy to forget that we have such awesome kids.  The daily arguments with little brothers or heavy sighs about chores can take a toll on a Mom.  But then, you see them as others see them.  And you're so thankful.

Adisson is a Cub Scout, through and through.  He embraces Scouts wholeheartedly and with sincerity.  He sets goals and goes about achieving them.  He's proud of his uniform and ensure he wears it correctly.  He takes his leadership role within our Pack, and inside his den, very seriously.  In fact, he gets upset when the boys in his den (the oldest kids in Cub Scouts) don't approach situations with the same amount of tact and dedication.

Adisson enjoying some kickball.

Zander, on the other hand, is a little different.  He often tries to wear his uniform the way he likes.  He's ready to participate and pay attention, but like most 6 year olds, he's not going to last for long.  He wants to hike....for a minute....then it's time to rest.  He'll play outside, but he'll ask when he's allowed to come back inside.  He argues about wearing his hat to a meeting, but then wants to wear it when we're out to run errands.  :)  But I love him and I love how so perfectly he is my Zander.

Zander catching some air while jumping rope.

Jax was pretty well behaved this weekend.  Sadly, I didn't get to spend much time with him.  He was often busy playing with the other little siblings while I took my Tigers around to each station and when I wasn't doing that, I was helping our Camp Chef cook four meals for 100 people on a $350 budget (and we did so rather fabulously!).

So how was school last week?

Well, it reminded me of those new to homeschooling days.  Days when you have great plans and nearly nothing goes the way you intended.  Days when you wonder if you made the right choice by keeping them home.

But even the days that aren't so great are still days I was home with my sons.  Having never sent them to public school, I can't imagine what it would be like if they weren't here.  So, even the weeks when few things went according to plan are still good weeks.

How I'm going to change it this week:

We're going to get it done.  :)

Adisson will be starting his science unit on electricity, finally.  He's also looking for a new book to read as he'll be finishing up Hatchet.  We're selecting from a list of books by homeschoolers.  There's several that look really good so we're having a hard time narrowing it down.  That's a good problem to have.

Zander will be working more on reading skills and math.  He's been rushing through his work too much so we also have to work on slowing down.  His handwriting is still a work in progress so we're concentrating on that as well with some printable worksheets.

It will be a better week.  It has to be.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I love it when things get done!

Ohhhhh, yeah!!

Some weeks aren't so great, some weeks are just ok, some weeks are a mess!

And sometimes....they are AWESOME!  

Nothing exceptional happened for us last week.  The house is still in disrepair.  We still have a rental van.  In fact, the upstairs HVAC unit is broken and Jaxon has had a fever for the last 24 hours.  So things are chaotic and messy.  But last week in our homeschool, every.single.task was completed.  I made a plan before school started on Monday, we worked on it everyday, and got everything done.  It feels amazing!

I have most of this week planned already but I'm not quite finished.  I would have liked to have completed lesson plans this evening, but Jax still needed some Mama time.  I'll get our plans finished up tomorrow before school gets underway.  I'm hoping my littlest guy starts feeling even better in the morning.  Due to no cool air upstairs and the threat of an overnight storm (which would mean closing the windows upstairs), we're all camping out in the living room tonight.  The boys are THRILLED!

Now for School News


Adisson's pretty excited to get science started this week.  We'll be talking about electricity and there are a few experiments that will be really fun for him.  We spent last week discussing the periodic table.  It was interesting for both of us but he was ready to finish it up because it was a little difficult.  We'll also continue learning about the War of 1812 this week.  It will be a good week for him.

Zander is really making some progress as he's learning to read.  He loves his Time4Learning lessons and cartoons and I think they are really helping him grasp phonics.  We've been working on Hooked on Phonics and BOB books after we're done with Time4Learning and he's doing much better with them than he has in the past.  He also had his first T4L science lesson last week.  He was excited because it was lesson on is it living or nonliving and mostly discussed ocean animals.  We spent a lot of time discussing ocean life on vacation so he was ready to answer all of the questions.

I Promise to Do My Best



This week is another busy week.  Cub Scouts keeps us incredibly busy.  Adisson's "homework" for his next meeting is to make something.  It just so happens that we purchased some Minecraft-like fleece last week for small throws for each of the boys.  We're hoping to get at least Adisson's done tomorrow.  And this weekend is our Fall Camporee!  We haven't been camping in several months so the boys are anxious to get out there...and as much as camping and I dislike each other, I'm excited, too!

In the meantime, I'm still living on my homeschool cloud of completion.  I know not every week will be like last week and that's definitely ok.  But every once in awhile, it sure is nice when it all gets done.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Back in the Homeschooling Groove

I apparently needed a vacation after vacation.  We didn't get a lot of school done last week.  I hate when that happens.  I always feel like Super Homeschool Mom when I manage to pull of an awesome week of school and then I feel like a liver sandwich when it's an off week.

Cub Scouts = BUSY!

Because I was already so busy with Cub Scout stuff, we decided to spend a few days working on Cub Scout achievements with the boys.  It was actually pretty fun and worked out rather well.  Adisson learned about time zones and Zander had his first run-in with the scientific method.  We also spent some time discussing citizenship and the boys made collages that reminded them of America.  My nearly-a-Boy Scout earned his Family Travel Academic Pin, Geography Academic Pin, and Citizenship Academic Pin.  In the interest of full disclosure, I picked out a few pins that he was very close to earning so he could finish them off.  My brand new Cub Scout earned his Science Belt Loop.

This week, I think we'll get started on their Heritages Belt Loop.  We went on a really fun field trip last week with our homeschooling friends.  It was a farm with a lot of historical activities set up for school kids participation, but there was also a museum there showcasing the area's rich Scottish heritage.  Adam's family is from Scotland so the kids and I had a lot of fun trying to find out with which Scottish clan his family (well, their family as well) would most likely be associated.  Additionally, Adisson needs to complete his Weather Academic Pin and Zander can earn his Weather Belt Loop.  Fortunately, I know where I can find some awesome weather curriculum for us to use.

Speaking of our field trip, here are a few photos:
Here's my guys (plus an extra---Adisson's best friend) after digging up potatoes.  

Zander was a little too short and when the handle got to the top, he had to jump to reach it.

Adisson really enjoyed our visit to the woodsmith.  I think the feeling was mutual.

And in other school news...

Ok, I think I've tried planning for our school year about 5 different ways over the last several months and every single one has failed thus far.  Oops.  So, I'm going back to what we used last year.  I print out a sheet of weekly assignments, click through the lessons, and write down what needs to be completed each day.  It works out fine...not sure why I keep trying to change it.  I'm also going to stop planning too far in advance.  With another vacation upcoming and then birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, traveling, etc. school can get shuffled around a little and when I plan for months in advance, my schedule ends up a mess.  I'm planning for one week at a time!

This week, Adisson's going to be learning about commas, James Madison, and the periodic table, just to name a few.  Zander is going to be working on his handwriting (yikes!), reading, and reviewing a sight word list.  Yes, they'll both be doing math as well, but that's not a very exciting subject around here, unfortunately.  I'd also like to get back to our family reading of the book Shiloh.  Plus, I've got a few fun activities planned for my littlest guy--if he can manage a 15 minute stretch of no outbursts.  

I want this week to be awesome.  I don't want it to be just ok or we just muddled through.  At the end of the week, I want to say "That was a great week of homeschooling!"  I wonder if I can make my enthusiasm contagious...well, I'm certainly going to try!