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!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Vacation was...

Over in the Blink of an Eye

For an entire week, I lived like we were on vacation...which was nice since we were.  Sure, I did a little work here and there and did a little more administrative Cub Scout duties than I would have cared to do on a beach vacation, but in large part, I soaked up the rest.  I read a few books. I sat with my toes nestled in the sand and gazed at the ocean waves rolling in and out for hours at a time.  I watched my sons breathe in the wonder that is the sea.  I felt my soul connect with nature, with life, with God.  It was amazing.

And it ended.  All too soon and with a bang.  Because the second we stepped through the door at home, we were hard at work.  Adam and I are heavily involved in our sons' Cub Scout Pack and with our first Pack meeting in a few days, we had no time to waste getting organized and ready.  And as much as I love being involved, for a few moments, I wished we weren't.

But wait....

A few things happened while on vacation.  I started thinking about what I'd like to be doing right now, in my life, on this earth.  I definitely feel like I'm a very busy person, as most moms with three boys 10 and under are, and maybe this isn't the right time to add to the project list...but then I thought, if not now, when?  So it's now.  I want to start working on a writing project.  Well, I began on vacation, but I want to push forward full steam ahead right away.  But there's that pesky little thing called time.  Sure, there's plenty of it for me to utilize, but I don't manage my time well, AT ALL.  I 'spose I'll be working on that, too.

(I won't actually be writing with that.)

This Week in School

In our upcoming school week, Adisson is going to be working on his STEM related project for Cub Scouts.  He only has a few more months before he becomes a Boy Scout, so he needs to get busy.  It's a big project and he's already started, he just needs some motivation to get going.  And that's what I'm here for!  I'm excited to help him spend some time exploring the universe ---he's really been into that lately.  

Zander is going to be working on Spelling because he loves it and having some fun with some online vocabulary flashcards.  Right now, he thinks everything is fun, which is awesome.  He enjoys his time on the computer with his lessons and games and then we do some activities away from the screen.  People think because we use a computer-based curriculum that we sit like zombies in front of the computer all day everyday.  Not even close...

This is going to be a busy week.  Vehicle insurance issues, home insurance/contractor issues, busy with Scouts, unpacking, really just a hundred different things.  And when it gets to be overwhelming, I'm going to stop and listen.  Because maybe, just maybe, if I listen hard enough, I'll hear the ocean again.  Calling my name and telling me that every problem, every irritation, every annoyance, is but a grain of sand in my life...and that I need to see the bigger picture.  And it's a pretty amazing picture.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

It's Finally Time!

Greetings from the Outer Banks!

Honestly, I feel like last week and all the chaos that came with it are now a million miles away.  We had a houseful of contractors in the house all day, each day but now it doesn't matter.  The day we very anxiously awaited arrived and so did the McGhee family at our vacation getaway.  And there is no construction at this house. :)

We have a lot in store for the week. Some sightseeing, some touring, but mostly just spending time at the beach.  Adisson will spend hours on his boogie board.  Zander will literally lay in the sand and let the waves crash all over him.  Jax will spend most of the time playing in the sand while occasionally running to the water but rarely actually touching it.  I will sit in my beach chair calling out to the boys reminding them not to throw sand or to look at the crabs scurrying nearby.

But, there's more...

The learning never stops.  No, we aren't on a regular school schedule.  We are taking a vacation.  However, I should tell you something about my kids, maybe it affects your children as well, they aren't always great at entertaining themselves.  Knowing this, I'm ready with some stuff to occupy the kiddos.  Along with coloring books, crayons, activity binders, and some toys, I've also got some fun phonics games to try out on their tablets. 

Plus, what kind of homeschooling mama would I be if I didn't talk to them about ocean life and ecosystems while we are here? We have seen some pretty neat creatures already.  Hopefully, we can snap a few good pictures this week to add to our animal scrapbook. I'll say that crabs of all shapes and sizes are probably our favorite.   Well, a bird dropped half of a fish in front of us today and then came back to retrieve it--that was pretty awesome!

I hope to add some photos soon.  I'm currently using Adam's tablet to get this post ready and it is not as user friendly as I would like.  Once again, I will be asking Santa for a Chromebook this year.  :)

Until next time...

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Any day now.

Is it Time for Vacation Yet?

Sometimes, I feel as though I'm running on empty.  Right now, I'm overwhelmed with everything that is going on around us.  We're just barely into our new school year and already our schedule has been thrown out the window.  Our home repairs are steady underway (FINALLY) which means a house full of contractors all day long.  I feel like I can't be too far away from where they are working because they occasionally need me.  We can't be downstairs at all, so we're all hanging out together upstairs all day.  And, if that weren't enough...if I needed one more thing to be stressed about...we were rear ended AGAIN--in the van we purchased just one week prior.

And I just wonder...what else.

I try to stay focused on the positive, particularly one positive thought I keep rolling around in my head.  In just a few short days, we leave on vacation.  Leave behind a house that is unfinished and a mess, another broken van (we'll have a rental), stress from not being "on schedule" with school.  We're going to a place where all of that stressful, emotional clutter will be so far, far away.

Outer Banks, North Carolina
Photo Credit: Jerry Hill

But the learning continues...

I shouldn't be so distraught over school plans because we've still be working and still been learning.  Zander is LOVING all the fun he's having on SpellingCity and  I didn't realize that a weekly spelling list would be so exciting!  He asks to play the "letter dropping game" and his other favorite spelling games everyday.  He's working on pretty simple words, but I love that he's enjoying himself so much.  He's been doing really well with the rest of his lessons, too.  Usually, he's eager to do some new, fun activities--unless he's been around Adisson's negative whining.

Adisson's favorite parts of last week were Social Studies and Science, of course.  In Science, we've been talking about atoms.  He even built a model hydrogen atom.  I really love the science education he gets with Time4Learning and Science4Us.  Here's a photo of the fun:
Crafts and science?  Winner, winner!

Next week will be another stressful one.  The house will be  filled with contractors everyday and again we'll trapped upstairs.  I just want to get it done.  DONE.

In the meantime, however, I'll just suck it up and deal with it.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Our School Room

It's our first day of school!  I don't have pictures of my handsome students yet.  I wanted pictures of all three of them and I still had a sleepy head when we started this morning.  We'll work on that later today.  I do, however, have pictures of our school room.

The view from the doorway.

Our books and fun learning stuff. :)

Adisson's Corner. 

The computer desk and the little boy's desk.  And the dog.  :)


Sunday, September 1, 2013


So I suppose this week is it, we'll finally get started with school.  :)  I feel like I wanted everything to be perfectly ready to get started but I'm not sure that's ever happened.  What I need to do is just get going and let things work themselves out.

I think something that's been stressing me out with school starting is that I want to have every single thing planned out before we officially start.  I wanted to have the first quarter planned and written in my planner.  I wanted to have their printable worksheets filed in the corresponding section of each school binder.  I wanted to have every item/supply we will need found, organized, in a box labeled with when we'll need it.  (Ok, so that last one is a bit unrealistic!)  I've planned enough.  I printed out the worksheets they'll need for the first week.  I've cleaned off their desks (but thanks to new Legos, I'll need to do that again!) and hung up new posters around the room.  We need to get this show on the road!

We'll have two weeks of school before our first vacation.  Excited to spend some time at the beach!  The boys don't know this yet, but I plan on taking some school work with us.  We're going to do a mini unit study on ocean habitats while we're there, provided we have the time.  If we don't get to it, I'm fine with that, but if there's some down time and the natives start getting restless, I want to have something ready for them.  Plus, Night of the Moonjellies is a magical book.

I don't know about you, but I couldn't be more ready for fall.  It's my most favorite time of the year.  Autumn decorations around the house, the smells of apple, cinnamon, and pumpkin, the colors, the coolness in the air.  I'm ready for it.  I'm pretty sure that tomorrow, I'm pulling out all my fall decor.  Then, I'm going to realize I don't have enough and start making some more.  :)  Tomorrow, we'll work on our Fall Bucket List.  There's a few places around here that we haven't visited yet (some pumpkin patches and hopefully we can revisit the orchard we saw last year).  Plus, I'm trying very hard this year to include a lot of field trips, but that's one of the BEST parts of homeschooling!

Anyway, since the time has FINALLY come, expect some Back-to-School pictures this week.  My little guys are growing up!