Sunday, August 25, 2013

Oh, wait....

Well, we were supposed to start school today.  Usually, I never plan on starting before Labor Day and it looks like that's how things will work out this year anyway.  Last week was busy and chaotic with 2 different flooring choices going in downstairs.  New carpet in the living room and new vinyl flooring in the laundry room.  It made for a busy week with a lot of people in and out of the house.  I know when it's cabinet time and then slate time, this place will be a zoo.

And I think maybe I needed the break from getting ready.  Honestly, I think I spent most of this summer planning our school year or thinking about planning our school year but when I look at my planner, there still seems to be holes.  When I look around the school room, it's still not ready to go.  That happens with me...I have a lot of great ideas but if I can't make it happen in less than an hour, my excitement fizzles.

One thing I've been thinking a lot about is Adisson's new blog.  I finally told him about it the other day and we discussed what I expected.  I told him he could write about anything he wanted (and he chose Minecraft, of course) but that we will have to work together to make sure that all of his writing is grammatically correct.  We discussed how important it is that what he puts out there for other people to read needs to be his best writing.  We will get started next week with a writing standards overview so he knows what I expect from him.  I'm pretty sure he wants to get started as soon as possible because he really likes the idea, which would be the only thing he likes about starting 5th grade.

For Zander, this will be his first year using SpellingCity.  I want him to work on spelling skills and learn new words, but I also want him to have fun.  Over at SpellingCity, there are a lot of free puzzle games.  Zander loves games, especially computer games.  A win-win for us is for him to be working on a school assignment and having fun at the same time.  Plus, he likes to do stuff just like his big brother.  :)

Ok, so my final idea from last week is to make my own animal lessons.  Maybe I should be more specific.  We live in the woods.  Rather, our very small subdivision was built in the woods and everyone got a nice wooded section on their lot.  Our lot backs up to a big expanse of trees.  All these trees mean a lot of creepy crawlies.  We have a family of frogs that live on our porch each night.  There's several lizards that live down by the driveway.  We've seen some really pretty moths flying around the house and lately several big butterflies.  We've found a snake skin so we're pretty sure the rest of him is slithering around somewhere.  We take pictures of every new creature we see and look up the name, interesting facts, etc.  This year, we'd like to make a book of animals found around our house.

Well, that's about all I managed to get done last week.  This week, no excuses...lesson planning finished, school room finally done.  I'm not entirely sure what I'm waiting on....ugh, I hate being a procrastination queen.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ch-ch-ch-changes...

So the school room is painted!  It's all done and furniture has been moved around and reorganized!  It's not done (not exactly sure what I'm waiting on) but I'm working hard to get it finished by next week.  Sadly, I think I'll be postponing our start date until after Labor Day.  I had wanted to start early since we'll be taking some time off for vacations, but I think the repairs on the house may be starting when I'm trying to start school.  The first day of school is not going to go like I plan if we have a crew working downstairs.  We'll see how things go.  Right now, I'm just busy planning, organizing, and getting stuff ready...but I feel like I've been doing that for months now.



I've also been pondering changes to our homeschool.  And isn't the week before you intend on starting school the time to make changes?  Of course it is!  A big change for me is that I'm contemplating a switch from a paper planner to an electronic homeschool planner.  Someone mentioned planning via Google Calendar and I started thinking that it might not be a bad idea.  I use Google a lot for work and for Scouts, why not utilize it for school?  I've been poking around, checking it out this weekend.  Basically, it involves me inputting our schedule into Google Calendar and sharing that calendar with Adisson (as he's the only one working independently) via email.  He'll log into Google in the morning, see what he's scheduled to work on for the day and get started.  Plus, this gives him access to the Google Drive.  That means when he's prompted to write an assignment, he can do so directly into a Google Doc and I can then check it from my computer.  It's sounds chaotic, but I think it's going to be awesome!

Another change for us is reducing our school "stuff."  It's funny for me to say that because I've bought some new "stuff" over the last few weeks.  I've realized that a room crammed full of bookcases, boxes, tubs, etc. isn't a peaceful room to work in.  In the last few weeks, I've eliminated two bookcases which means all that stuff had to go elsewhere.  I've donated unused or unneeded homeschool materials and books.  I've changed around the layout of the room in order to have more open space.  I just feel like we need supplies, but we need to be free of clutter.  I think there's a few more things on the chopping block this week, as well.

As far as actual schooling goes, I've been working on that, too.  One of the things I've been thinking about having Adisson do is start his own blog.  He struggles with writing and it becomes a battle between us.  I want him to write about a specific topic, he doesn't want to.  I want him to work on his writing skills is because I think good writing is important and because he has terrible penmanship.  I think I've got a solution.  Allowing him to have his own blog and write about what he wants, will mean that he's writing instead of grumbling about writing.  For handwriting practice, he'll be writing his spelling words and also, for the first time ever, having copywork assignments.  He's not going to enjoy that .... at all....but that's the breaks.  I also plan on seeking additional help via an online writing tutorial after the first of the year.

I also want to be more purposeful in our art education with the addition of an art curriculum as well as doing a lot more science.  I don't like science.  I don't understand it so I don't like it.  And that's crummy.  The boys LOVE science.  Honestly, art and science are the favorite subjects around here.  So, Adisson will be working on his electrical energy lessons with Zander tagging along and Zander will be working on his brand new science curriculum (Science4Us) while Adisson joins him.

One more thing.  A few weeks ago, I mentioned something I really wanted to have from the office store but I didn't buy it.  Well, I kept thinking about it and as dorky as it sounds, I decided I had to have it.  The boys get stuff for their new school year, I wanted something fun, too.  So I bought it.

My cupcake tape dispenser!
More to come this week!  I have a lot I'm wanting to get on here but as you know, I'm unbelievably busy!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

When it rains, it pours.

I know, I know, total cliche, but definitely right on.

Last week, I had several meetings with the contractor regarding repair work.  For a few reasons, Adam and I are unhappy and now feel we're stuck between a rock and a hard place (I'm on top of it with cliches tonight!).  It has now brought on stress and tense conversations and we're just super frustrated.  What can you do?

On Saturday, we all got up and got ready for a Cub Scout hike down in Fayetteville.  I was looking forward to it because the trail has a pretty awesome nature center I was going to check out while the boys were hiking.  Yep, that's right, I was going to stay in the nature center and look at animals because there's NO WAY I'm hanging out on a trail in the woods while I'm  STILL COVERED in poison.  Anyway, we're on our way to pick up another Scout when we realized there was a problem with the van.  We pull into the gas station, Adam says "blah, blah, blah, caliper, blah, blah, brake fluid, blah."  To which I remind him that we just had the calipers replaced last fall...at the shop directly across the street.

We drive the van to the shop and the five of us in matching orange t-shirts spill into the lobby to wait.  And wait and wait and wait.

The van was finally done.  I'd spent the last three hours wondering how much this trip is going to cost us, because I remember how much it was last October, when the mechanic comes out to say it was replaced & repaired for free because the part was under warranty.  I nearly skipped to van with excitement!  The boys were hungry, grumpy, and done being good after spending so long sitting and staring at one another.  As a treat for their good behavior and patience, we headed to Sonic for lunch and ice cream.

And that's when we were rear-ended by an SUV, who was rear-ended by a large box truck.  And that is why I say....when it rains, it pours.  We're all fine as are all the other occupants of the vehicles behind us.  The van sustained a few thousand dollars worth of damage, but it's drivable.  We are taking it in for repairs on Wednesday, we have rental vehicle coverage, and our insurance company pays for the replacement of car seats.

What does any of this have to do with homeschooling?  Not a thing.  So...moving on.

I bought paint for the school room!  This has been high on my list of things to do for a long time.  I had decided on a specific color but forgot the swatch when I went to Home Depot.  Adisson helped me pick out a few other colors.  He was very excited when I chose one that he had selected.  It's a neat color because it looks different every time I see it.  I'm working on a Big Reveal blog post about the school room so I'll quit talking about the decorating now.  I have started painting and have about half of the room done.  I have to finish emptying the bookshelves to get the rest painted....which is about as much fun as it sounds.

Zander in his "painter clothes" helping me get the school room started!



While shuffling supplies from bookshelves to the hallway, I "found" a few things I want to be sure we use this year.  A few years ago, I bought a few science kits, one of which is magnets for kids.  Adisson really enjoyed the magnets and the different experiments we did so I want to use it with Zander.  I also want to be sure we use our microscope as often as we can.  Nothing makes you feel more scientific than when you're staring at something tiny through a microscope.

I did get started on printing out Zander's worksheets that I mentioned last week.  I still haven't decided how to organize the boys school binders.  In Maryland, we had to show our education monitor our homeschool portfolios.  We don't have to do that in North Carolina, but it was a really nice way to keep track of our school year.  I think I will put together something similar for each of the boys.

I have a ton of painting, decorating, and organizing left to do in our school room.  I'm really hoping I can get most, if not all, of it finished up this week.  That will leave me next week to do all the last minute stuff I need to do before we get started with our school year.  We'll have school for a few weeks before our beach vacation.  And I definitely need a beach vacation right about now.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Chocolate Cupcake Tape Dispensers

Do you ever think, "Ok, what next?"  :)  Last weekend, I had a little extra time and decided that I'd do some work outside.  We have two areas in our front and side yard where our builders left some trees.  They added pine straw around them (what the south uses instead of mulch) which looked nice for awhile.  Then, the weeds came.  For the past few months, I've been paying the boys to weed the tree beds for me.  Last weekend, though, I decided I'd do it since it was hot and super sticky outside. 

Fast forward to this weekend, I'm covered in poison oak.  COVERED.  I spent Monday feeling something coming on.  By Tuesday morning, I was scratching all over.  By Tuesday night, I was in the emergency room and Wednesday, I spent the day in bed.  Pretty much the same with Thursday.  For a little while there, the swelling in my face was very intense.  The swelling has gone down, but the very uncomfortable rash has remained.  On my face, neck, arms, legs, behind my knees, in my ears, on my fingers, my eyelids.  It's so uncomfortable.  :(

On Friday afternoon, my best friend of 16 years told me that she was heading to South Carolina on a spontaneous anniversary trip with her wonderful husband and could they stop by?  Despite the fact that my house is still a complete mess (as nothing has been done with regards to repair work) and regardless of the fact that I'm a poster child for an anti-yardwork campaign, of course I want them to visit.  I haven't lived in the same state as Tiffany for over 8 years.  We typically see each other once a year and never for long enough.  My answer to "Can we come over?" will forever be a very loud YES!

So that was my week. 

However, I did manage to squeeze in a little school planning.  :)  A side effect of the medication I'm on is trouble sleeping.  I figured, if I can't sleep (and after I've checked out Pinterest for a few hours), I could use that time to plan for some learning.  I spent some time last week setting up the boy's spelling lists by grade.  Adisson's Time4Learning 5th grade spelling lists were already imported by someone else so I just needed to find them.  I found some great lists for Zander to use, as well.  Being a premium member means I can work on setting up individual profiles for each boy and assigning them different tasks for their list.  Zander can't do the same learning games as Adisson and Adisson likes the more difficult games, anyway.  I checked out each of the games and activities to see which ones to assign.  I also scheduled their assignments for the first quarter of school.  Cross that off my list!

I also got a start on organizing Zander's printable worksheets.  In first grade, he has several corresponding worksheets for his Time4Learning lessons.  He really enjoys worksheets and I really like the reinforcement so it's a win-win at the McGhee's.  I'm still at the beginning of that task (are we really going to be ready to start school later this month?!) so hopefully I'll find time this week to get more of the worksheets printed out and put into his school binder. 

My next large task is going to be acquiring the supplies necessary for Adisson's science lessons.  He's very excited because for the first part of the year, he'll be learning about electrical energy.  I'm not quite as excited, because truthfully, I'm not very knowledgeable in that area.  The good news is that his dad does know what he's talking about so he'll be able to help me out.  Plus, any time dad is the teacher, the boys have a good time.  There's not a lot on the supply list but a few of the items I need to pick up specifically for science (as opposed to items I already have on hand around the house) so I want to be sure I start looking for everything now. 

In other exciting news, my accumulation of school supplies is going along rather well.  I've been able to pick up most of what I had on my shopping list for the new year.  I bought a new pencil sharpener as ours stopped working, but the new one is also broken so it will be exchanged.  I'd also like a tape dispenser for my desk.  I know that sounds silly but I don't currently have one and I have decided I want one.  I should have picked up the really cute cupcake one I saw in the store today.  Then, I'd get to spend my school days thinking about awesome, yummy, chocolate-y cupcakes.  Hmmmmm.  :)