Sunday, March 31, 2013

Peeps!

We got a little busy last week.  :)  I thought we weren't going to be taking some time off for Spring Break, but since our homeschool friends did, we did to so we could spend some time with them.  However, we still did tons of school so maybe it wasn't as much of a break as I thought it would be.  And that's fine by me!

Anyway, last week we made Peeps dioramas based on books.  The rules were simply that all characters depicted had to be Peeps and it was to be a scene from a book.  We met up with friends to work on the dioramas together.  It was fun and silly and the boys had a good time.  Here are the (mostly) finished products:

Adisson's "Make Way for Ducklings" diorama.

Zander and Jaxon's "The Story About Ping" diorama.

Well, friends, I'm getting nervous.  I don't talk about it in front of the boys, but each day that passes, each week that comes to an end, finds me more worried about what's coming.  It's testing season.  We'll be putting our testing off until the VERY LAST MINUTE to get as ready as we can, but truth be told, Adisson's not ready.  He's struggled so much in math and while he's SLOWLY getting better (thanks to repetition, discussion, math games, worksheets, anything you can think of), he's still not as ready as I'd like him to be for our homeschool standardized test.  I hate to worry about it because I know that does nothing to get him ready, but I know what a low test score is going to do to his self-esteem.  :(

This week will be another pretty light week of school since Dad will be home for Monday and Tuesday and we don't school when Dad is home.  Adisson will be working on an Art project for submission to a local writer/artist scholarship contest.  I don't think he has any phenomenal artistic talent, but I want him to be involved and take advantage of the local offerings to homeschoolers.  And, of course, we'll be working hard on test prep.  I'm already dreading it.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fix it, Felix!!

It's not working.

Last night, I listened to a great webinar given by Heidi St. John about managing my time better.  I've actually heard her speak before, giving this same talk, at last year's NCHE convention.  She's a great speaker.  And she's right.  I don't have a time management problem, I have a me management problem.  And a problem of allowing my children to think they run this show, when in fact, they do not.  Or perhaps they do...but they shouldn't.

And this mama has had enough.

So tomorrow morning, we're starting day one of a brand new schedule.  And it's going to shock ALL OF US because for most of ten years, I've been a go with the flow kind of mom.  Just whatever...it's cool...we're good.  Nope.  Not anymore.  Because all five of us are suffering from it and it's MY fault.

I'm fixing it.  It's not working and tomorrow I'm fixing it.  We're having a family meeting tonight.  There will be tears (I do not care, children, you are NOT entitled to unlimited video game time...deal with it!), there will be the law laid down.  Tonight.

And tomorrow, it's gonna suck.  For me, for the kids, just all around.  But I don't care.  It's broken and I can fix it.  Call me Fix-it Felix because I'm getting done.

Ok, off to do something else after spending the last 45 minutes writing and color coding a brand new schedule.  :)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Homeschool Field Trip, woo hoo!

Today we took a field trip with a local homeschool group. We've done a few things with them before, but always along with several other groups so they've never actually met us. We met up with the one other family we know that homeschools...yay for not being the only newbies.

Anyway, we talked about density and made lava lamps! The boys LOVED it! Really, it's vegetable oil and water in a plastic bottle with some glitter and food coloring tossed in for fun. You can hold a flashlight up to it when you are done to see all the cool stuff in the bottle. My boys did really well and made awesome lava lamps!

Afterwards, we went outside for play time at the playground. And for mom socializing, of course (because you know, homeschool moms really need socialized!!). It was crazy cold outside but those boys ran around for awhile and ran out some much needed energy before heading to McDonald's. Yay for a really fun day and now for some photos!!

Jax LOVES the slides!  Went down them over and over and over!


The big boys had a ton of fun playing on the playground!


I promise, he also had a good time!


My monkeys at the bottom of the slide!


Zander showing his lava lamp.  He really liked it!


This is my baby.  Being just how he is every single day.  God bless me.  :)


What the lava lamps look like.  Jaxon's is blue and was left settled and
Adisson's  is the green one and I had just twirled it around to show all the fun glitter! :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Here at home.

So it was a better week for us last week, but I'm still not feeling quite...right.  I'm not sure what the difference was from March's treatment to any that I've had in the past, but I feel like my treatment just wasn't received as well as it is typically.  Plus, my joint issues are flaring up tremendously, rendering the ibuprofen my new sidekick.  But, I'm good enough to keep on chugging.  :)

Adisson's working on a personal essay to submit to a local writing contest.  And that has been a struggle.  You see, I love to write.  I wish I had the time to write more because I could write and write and write.  I like the research, I like working up a rough draft, editing...I just enjoy writing.  And I feel like I'm pretty decent at it so that helps.  Adisson, on the other hand, is truly his father's son and grumbles at having to write his name on something.  Adam and I attend Leader Meetings together for Scouts and we each take notes on our meeting agenda.  By the end of the night, his has a few dates scribbled on it and mine is covered from top to bottom with arrows drawn here and there to keep things organized.  So, that's how my oldest is just like his Daddy.  Looks just like his Mama, acts just like the old man.  :)

Zander is steady working on his reading, but not just from his tiny little books.  He's been picking up words here and there and sounding things out all over the place.  I love it!  I like that he sees that reading isn't just on pages in books, but that it takes place all around you all the time.  He also AMAZES me with his grasp of math.  I don't like to compare the boys and I try really hard not to do so, but it's so foreign to me how Z just picks up math so easily and quickly, but Adisson struggles with it so incredibly.  Another way that my guys are each their own person.

Jaxon has learned to spell his name!  :)  His big brother Zander taught him to say "J-A-X-O-N" and he will walk around repeating it over and over.  It's precious!  He's also been doing really well at number recognition and counting.  I'd like to move to letters soon, but it will happen when it happens.  Apparently, so will potty training.

A friend of mine has a daughter in jr. high.  She was homeschooled until this year (7th grade) and there's a possibility that she will return home for 8th grade.  We've talked a lot about it and every time we do, I'm again reminded of my recent change of heart regarding homeschooling.  I'm an "accidental homeschooler" --when Adisson was born, I didn't just *know* I was going to homeschool him.  I never thought about it really.  But when it was time to start thinking about it, I became CERTAIN that my child was far too young to be on the bus for an hour and away from me all day long, five days each week.  I asked Adam what he thought about me homeschooling and to my great surprise, he was absolutely fine with it.  And here we are.

I'm asked often when we're going to put the boys in "real school" and certainly we don't plan on homeschooling in high school, right?  Until this year, Adisson's 4th grade year, my answer was always "Well, we know we're homeschooling this year, but we have no idea what next year will bring."  But that's not true anymore.  I no longer feel like we're just waiting until the right time to put the boys in public school as I don't think there will ever be a right time.  I never want them to go.  As long as homeschooling works for us, they'll be here.

So for my friend, that would mean that soon, she would be homeschooling a high schooler!  Thankfully, I have some time to read, to prepare, to get ready for high school, but it's coming!  It will be here before I know it and way before I'm ready.  Then, I'll be preparing to have a high school graduate....oh geez!  I'm not sure what Adisson's future plans are or what his current dreams may be because he changes his mind regularly, but we'll talk about homeschool friendly colleges, career options, or possibly (and I'm not sure if I could handle it) the military.

But for now, my boys are home.  We learn at home, we play at home, we fight, we love, we laugh, and spend our time together, here at home.  So together that as I type this, my three sons are all cuddled up in the same bed because they wanted to watch a movie with one another before they fell asleep.  A sweet mothering moment...that they will shatter tomorrow morning when they start fighting over cereal and who gets which barstool.  :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Let's go!

Last night was the Homeschool Mom's Night Out and I met up with my friend who also homeschools.  First of all, until last year when we moved here, I had never had a friend who homeschools.  That alone is one of the best things in the world to me.  So, we're there, we have some yummy food, hear words of advice from some great ladies, and watch a video of the keynote speaker at least year's NCHE conference.  And I knew what was going to happen at the end of the night...and I was right.  I came home renewed, refreshed, and ready to get to work.

I also have decided definitively that I'm going to this year's NCHE conference.  In fact, I'd like for the five of us to go.  Even if we don't all go to the conference, but I hope that my husband will join me for a few seminars.  :)  My mom is supposed to be visiting the weekend before so Adam and I can go celebrate our anniversary (10 years!!), so in a perfect world, she'd be able to stay for two weekends in a row.  We'll see...

Anyway...I've been wanting to change things in our homeschool for awhile, I just lacked the commitment to do so.  I'm hoping now, I can figure out how I want things to be, what I want to do, and do it.  I owe it to my sons, my absolutely amazing sons, to do the best I can by them. So what's going to change??

To start with, we will not be changing our core curriculum, Time4Learning.  I love it and I don't want to use something different.  This is the first time in six years of homeschooling that I've stuck with the same curriculum for so long and that says something to me.  It says that it works.  So I'm not leaving it when it's been a saving grace for us!

What I am doing is being more purposeful in what we do in addition to Time4Learning.  Adisson has some pretty big Cub Scout projects that we are going to incorporate into our school day.  He's working on his STEM/NOVA project and that will take some time.  We're also going to use some unit studies in addition to our regular day.  We're starting one next week, and I know it will be a HUGE hit...because it's all about Legos!  We've always enjoyed lapbooks and I don't know why I thought it had to be one or the other (online learning or lapbooks) because uh,  hello....this is *our* school and it can be whatever we want it to be!!  I was super excited to find two different Lego lapbooks, one for my bigger kid and one for my Kindergartener!

The boys also love two other things...art and science.  So why don't we do art projects and more science experiments?  Because I'm too busy.  I'm too busy keeping up with the house, working on other projects, etc.  Well, not anymore. That's what they love most, so it only makes sense to do it, often!

I'm just excited.  Because I know I can be a super rad homeschool mom, I just need to give myself permission to do it.  And now I have.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Victory is an awesome feeling!

My treatment was last week and it wasn't as "refreshing" as it typically is so I spent most of the week feeling pretty blah.  I think a trip to my immunologist will be needed pretty soon to see if there are adjustments to be made.  Because I felt pretty crummy, I didn't feel like we had as great of a week as I wanted.  Not much I can do about it now, just work hard this week.

This week I want to include a super fun science experiment (which will totally work towards some Cub Scout goals Adisson has) and a really neat art lesson.  I feel like the incredible busy-ness of our lives tends to push the fun stuff aside and I want to be very purposeful in that regard this week.

I also want to work on my own writing and have considered a blogging course.  I like to blog and while I hold no desire to be a blogger that gains hundreds of thousands of followers (well....maybe some desire...imagine being that good at writing so that many people kept coming back!?), I know I want to be a better blogger.  Sometimes, I feel like my whole life is consumed by the four guys I live with that I'm left with VERY little time for anything other than dishes, laundry, cooking, etc.  I know the boys are still young and this is just the season of our life right now...it's just so tiring. Better time management could lead to some better hobby management.  :)

Tomorrow night, I'm heading to a Mom's Night Out for homeschooling mamas.  I'm so very excited.  But I'm a little apprehensive.  Sometimes, I feel like because I don't necessarily look like other homeschoolers, then they aren't as accepting as I would like.  Because I'm a younger mom (because typically, moms of kids that are Adisson's age are a little older), I feel like I'm not taken seriously.  This is my 6th year homeschooling.  I'm no pro at it (CLEARLY), but this ain't my first rodeo, either!  I'm just hoping for some open minded homeschoolers tomorrow night.

Anyway, our weekend was spent with company and it was so great!  My in-laws came down to visit and it was exciting to show them our new house.  This weekend was also our Cub Scout Pinewood Derby for our pack.  Adisson has had his car design in his mind for a very long time and I think he was pretty happy with it.  Our Pack also invites siblings and parents to build a race a pinewood derby car.  Zander was SO EXCITED to get to make a car.  We decided to have one for Jax, too so he didn't feel left out.  On registration night, Adam decided to grab one of his old derby cars and race it, too, just for fun!

And let me tell you, the McGhee boys had an AMAZING time at the Pinewood Derby!



The cars.
Adisson's Light Speed Racer, Zander's Money Machine, and Jaxon's Black Coffee.  


Zander got Third Place!!!
The siblings were ranked as well and Z-Wally ended up with third!!!

Adisson wearing his First Place Medal!!
Each den had a top three and they were awarded medals!  He's so happy!
Adam received First Place for his race, too! :)
And here's my "baby" with his trophy, after he won FASTEST CAR IN THE PACK!



So, I know I shouldn't put so much emphasis on winning, I get that.  But my guys don't participate in a lot of activities where they can win.  And the last time Adisson raced, his car was the SLOWEST in the pack.  No joke.  He received a "Pace Car Trophy" for having the slowest car.  And since that time, he's always known how he would make his car when he raced again.  And three years later...he raced again.  And he nailed it.  And the look on his face, the sheer joy when his name was called, made me so happy for him. I was, and am, a proud mama!

Anyway, this week, Adisson's going to be working on a writing piece for a local writing contest.  I would love for his work to be chosen to be included in their anthology.  One time, in high school, I worked so hard on a writing piece and it was chosen for the school's anthology and it was about the best thing that happened to me in high school (ugh...let's not open that can of worms).  Plus, it will really give us a chance to go over writing rules so it's a dual purpose exercise.  

It's been a long, but fun weekend.  After yesterday's Derby and today being filled with an Easter egg hunt, coloring 3 dozen eggs, and spending the weekend with our super awesome company, I'm ready for bed.  

When I give you our weekly update next weekend, I want to be able to say that we worked hard and had an  awesome week of school.  That would make me a happy homeschooling mama.  :)  Here's hoping...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tweenagers...aren't they fun?

(Oops!  I meant to post last night but apparently, I just saved my draft.  Anyway, here it is!)

Last week was a little hectic for us.  But I think I say that every week so really no difference.  :)

Adisson's moved on to the French and Indian War in Social Studies and we're discussing natural resources in Science.  Really, those are his favorite subjects and the rest of stuff seems to be tasks that he has to finish to get to those two subjects.  I like that he's interested in something, though.  The only other thing he's enjoyed as much as social studies lately is getting to play hangman.  I think it's because he's getting some practice so he can beat me when we play Hanging With Friends.  :)

In Cub Scouts, we're working on him earning his STEM/NOVA award.  It's a big science/math project that he decided to complete and it's long and time consuming.  We started working on it last week in our den and also here at home.  I want to be sure he's understanding what we talk about and learning things, not just checking achievements off a list to receive the award.

Zander is working on the same school stuff, reading & math.  He's fun and silly when it comes to his online lessons...laughing out loud at the computer.  He picks up on math quickly (exciting for me!) and still has a happy attitude when it comes to school.We struggle a little while rhyming, for some reason he doesn't quite understand that we're talking about ending sounds and not beginning sounds.  I found a cute workbook for us to do together and we'll pull out rhyming Bingo to see if that helps.

Jaxon is discussing his lack of desire to use the potty.  He says diapers forever.  :)

The big boys are still taking piano lessons.  I also found some fun music games for them to do here at home while they wait their turn to practice.  Adisson reluctantly practices, Zander jumps in the chair every time I ask.  I just have to say....tweenagers are moody.  :)  Here's a photo of Zander last week at his lesson:


I know, super quick post, but it's getting late here.  We hosted a Scout Leader meeting at our house today so I spent all morning getting ready and the evening cleaning up.  :)  Tomorrow, I'll be at the hospital all day for treatment so I suppose I'll get some rest.

See you next week!


Monday, March 4, 2013

The Colonial McGhee's

Yet another busy week has passed with another equally busy one approaching.  For the next three weekends, our lives will be consumed by Cub Scouts.  Well....at least everyone enjoys Scouts.  For now.  :)

Last week, Adisson learned about colonial America.  We talked a lot about a fictional town called Everytown set in 1750.  We discussed the things we take for granted today (cars, electricity, phones, etc.) and how if we need something, we can get in the van, drive to the store, and buy it.  In Everytown, America that wasn't an option.  As a family, we discussed some of the things families living in and around Everytown would experience on a day to day basis.  One of the things we talked about was electricity or lack thereof.  To drive the point home, we made candles.  I definitely took the shortcut and made candles from beeswax sheets as opposed to hand-dipping them.  We've done that before and I'd like to do it again but we didn't have the stuff here at home.  Fortunately, we had some beeswax sheets (from a project I never got around to doing).  Each boy got to roll a long taper and a short candle.  It was pretty fun!  The only regret is not having more beeswax sheets.  I think this is something we'd like to do again, perhaps around Christmas to give away as gifts.  Here are photos of my guys working their candles.

Zander Spider-Man making a beeswax candle.
#1. Who doesn't homeschool in a Spider-Man costume and
#2.  Jax was in the middle of getting himself some milk...I promise that's not where we typically keep it.  :)

Jaxon's candle rolling.
He really enjoyed making candles! 

Adisson making his candle, that ended up looking like a stick of dynamite.  :)

We even ate our dinner by candlelight that night (and some lamps so we wouldn't spill everything) and the boys were pretty excited to see how well their homemade candles burned.  The joys of homeschool social studies.

We also spent some more time talking about the earth's natural resources.  Adisson really seems to get what I'm talking about with him because we also spend so much time in Cub Scouts discussing the earth and the world around us.  It makes things so much easier when he just gets it, you know? :)

Zander is learning about shapes right now.  We've been talking about flat shapes and shapes that have more dimension.  And of course, working everyday on reading.  Sometimes, he just wants to guess what the story is about based on pictures or guess the word based on previous words he's read in the pages before.  I have to remind him to slow down and pay attention to what he's working on.  

Jaxon.  ....... well, he sure is cute.

The boys have been taking piano lessons for about three weeks.  I can't quite decide how much they like them but I think we'll keep going for awhile.  Zander enjoys his lessons and practices when he's reminded.  Like anything I ask Adisson to do, first I have to listen to him grumble and then roll his eyes.  Seriously, if this is what I'm dealing with as a "tween," I'm not going to like teenage years too much!  :)

I keep thinking about adding in some additional extra-curricular activities, more specifically a Tues. and Thurs. afternoon karate class for homeschool kids.  I think the boys would really like it but I'm not sure if we can make it fit into our schedule.  Right now, we've got so much going on with Scouts and now we've added piano.  I just don't want to stretch us too thin.  However, this opportunity to take on a sport during the day without it disrupting our family time in the evening is pretty enticing.  I guess I'll just have to get pretty good at roadschooling so we can still get some stuff done while we're traveling from one thing to another.  :)  I guess that all depends on whether or not this program will continue to be available now that the military is facing an extraordinary amount of budget cuts.  Because we don't already sacrifice enough....