Monday, April 28, 2014

Update on Our Co-op Decision

I mentioned last week that I had some co-op news and I do.

We have signed up for the local co-op starting in August.  We're pretty excited about it!  I signed us up on the day of the Open House which enabled us to start registering for classes right away.  I was so anxious to find out if we got into all of the classes we wanted (it's first come, first served) and was quite happy when I got word that we had.

Classes the Boys are Taking

Adisson will be taking Zoology, Civics, and Lego Robotics.  He is thrilled about the Lego class.  He's been wanting a Lego Mindstorms set for so long and I've been saying no.  And then his Dad started telling me why we should have one (boys and their toys).  In all honesty, hearing about this class was the reason we checked out the Open House.  I knew how much Adisson would like it and he's elated that he is able to take the class.

Zander will be taking a literature class, a social studies class, and Botany.  He's excited about everything.  He said he's most interested in the botany class and I know it will be a lot of fun for him.  We also know the two ladies teaching during his social studies period, so he said he was really looking forward to being in that class.  I'm delighted that he's so happy about everything.

Jaxon got a spot in the only preschool class offered.  It's only for one hour so for the other two hours he'll be hanging out with me.  I'm hoping that we can work on his school stuff during that time also!  Still not entirely sure what that means, yet, but I know I'm not trying to drag a lot of preschool items to and from co-op each week.

It's Time to Wake Up!

Being part of a co-op will definitely be a big change for us. We aren't ever governed by much of a schedule, especially not in the morning. Since co-op classes start at 9:00 am, we will absolutely have to adjust our morning routine. Jax will be with me most of the morning, though, so I'm not as apprehensive about his ability to cope with the change. His brothers can't wait to try something new so I'm hopeful this all works out for everyone.

This co-op definitely more geared to high school homeschooling.  The classes they offer for high school students are pretty incredible.  I'm pleased with the offerings for my younger kids, and Adisson is ridiculously happy with his Lego class, but I'm also looking forward to the classes for them as they get older.  Not that I'm wishing the time passes that quickly!

All in all, I think we're all happy with the decision to try out this co-op.  I hope the feeling remains when we start waking up early on Monday mornings, my least favorite day of the week.  :)  In other news, there's a possibility of a new homeschool group forming in our area.  It's still at the most very beginning stages of discussion so I can't comment on it, but I'm hopeful!  I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

My Kid: The Entrepreneur

Since Adisson was about four years old, he's been trying to make money.  He's not especially greedy or in need of cash, but he has harbored an entrepreneurial spirit since before he started school.

In nearly every house in which we have lived, he's tried to advertise for lawn care by making a sign for the front yard.  Funnily enough, he doesn't know much about yard maintenance.  He's tried to open a restaurant in our home.  He's always dreamed of setting up a lemonade stand.  Recently, he tried making his own trading cards and selling them to kids he knows.  I'm not even scratching the surface of his business dreams, though.

Now that he's 11, I feel like he's reached an age where we can explore opportunities for him to earn some money.  Recently, I stopped in a local craft shop (I'm a huge fan so I'm promoting the biz because the owner is AMAZING!) and asked the lovely lady behind the counter if she would be interested in selling paracord bracelets in her store.  (Side note: Adisson learned to make survival bracelets out of parachute cord nearly two years ago.  In the time, he's made more than I can count.  Last Christmas, he received a colorful assortment of paracord and made bracelets and keychains for everyone he knew.)  She mentioned that she had her own paracord enthusiasts at home so probably not.  She did, however, inform me of the local vendor event that the city has on the second Sunday of each month.  Table space is a available for a reasonable rent and she'd help promote his fledgling business.

I couldn't wait to talk to my fella about the idea.  I knew he'd be sold instantly.  I was absolutely right.

Cord Scout

We made plans, ordered (a lot of) paracord, gathered additional supplies, even sprang for a bracelet making jig in order to speed up the process.  As previously mentioned on the blog, he's a new Boy Scout and has dreams of attending Boy Scout Summer Camp this year.  It's a bit on the pricey side so he decided he'd really like to use any money made from his business to help pay for summer camp.

In the days leading up to the event, Adisson spent every free minute making bracelets.  The day before, we worked on flyers, brochures, signage, and gathering supplies needed to set up his booth.  Once the big day arrived, Adisson and I were up very early to make sure we had everything prepared.  The babysitter showed up to stay with the little boys and we were on our way.

I won't go into a minute by minute recap of the day but rather a quick overview.  We were given a spot that turned out to be a less traveled sidewalk so that meant less foot traffic.  We accepted the offer to move to a new spot (though, I was sad to leave our vendor neighbors who could be the sweetest folks in Sanford!) and got set up a second time.  The weather was gorgeous, the sound of live music filled the streets, and there were people checking out the wares.

His display table.

Sadly, it didn't mean a lot of business for Adisson.  He ended the day with less than a half dozen sales.  But really, the kid was on cloud nine.  He was thrilled.  Sure, selling 50 bracelets would have been awesome, but we talked all week about how even selling one bracelet was a success.  It was a success.

 When I told him about the idea, he instantly said yes.  I told him it would be a lot of work and take a lot of time to get ready but he wasn't phased, he wanted to do it.  And he did it.  He stayed up late, he woke up early, he gave up free time and made bracelets.  He spent 5 hours sitting outside, greeting every single passer-by with a smile and friendly hello.  He answered questions (yes, he made EVERY SINGLE BRACELET HIMSELF), he offered to make custom bracelets on the spot, and he spoke with a reporter from a neighboring newspaper.  He would occasionally comment on not getting many sales but he was so happy to be there so he didn't give it much thought.

Bracelets in several colors!

A Letter to My Son

And because he reads my blog and because I love him I want to say this to him:

Adisson, I am so over-the-moon proud of you.  You worked hard and you didn't give up.  You put in so much time and effort and when the big day finally came, your excitement was contagious.  You may not have made a lot of money, but you learned so much more on that day.  Sometimes, it may seem like I forget how awesome you are when I'm nagging you about getting your chores or assignments completed, but you are an incredible kid.  I'm blessed beyond measure to be your mother.  I'm excited to see the young man you are becoming and I hope your entrepreneurial spirit is fostered with love and care in the coming years.

Let's do this. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Our Easter Weekend

I wanted to share a few photos of our Easter weekend activities since I mentioned them last week.  It was a pretty low-key weekend.  We were mostly just excited that Adam was home with us for the weekend that we spent most of our time just hanging out together.

One of the things we did was to color Easter eggs.  I bought a dye kit for the kids to use and I made a handful of natural dyes for myself.  First of all, the kids love coloring eggs.  They could color them everyday and not tire of the process.  Jax colors one right after the other, Zander waits until they reach a lovely shade, and Adisson takes a looooong time to get his just right.  Adam and I colored a few as well (all the cracked ones!) and had a great time with the kids.

My little ham and his brother sporting SEVERAL paracord bracelets.
Zander's creations.
Cute, huh?!

Finished product.  The first two (vertical) rows are J's,
followed by Adisson's, and the last two rows are Z-Wally's.

Mom's Natural Dyes.
Coffee (top left), grape juice, beet juice, and paprika.

I also wanted to make a few yummy desserts for the kids.  I had seen this gorgeous Easter grass cake sometime last week and I had to try it.  The grass is edible!  It was pretty easy, but a little time consuming.  I think it turned out really well, but just for your information, the grass isn't particularly yummy.  It's not gross, but it's not like you're going to pick off all of the grass and eat it first.  :)

Edible Easter grass cake.
I wanted to make a dessert that I knew the boys would love so I made birds nests out of Cocoa Krispies.  They LOVE Rice Krispies, so I thought they would be a hit.  They like them, but the lure of Easter candy is stronger than their love of Cocoa Krispies.  They do sneak the eggs off of the nests and eat them, though.

Cocoa Krispies Bird Nest with gumball eggs.
And finally, I saw this recipe on Saturday morning and I KNEW I had to give it a try.  If you have read my blog before, you know we are fans of Minecraft.  When I saw someone had made Creeper Peeps, I wanted so badly to wow my boys with them!  This wasn't a particularly difficult recipe, but definitely time consuming (of course).  Sadly, the boys don't love them as much as I hoped they would.  They love the look of them, but one claims they are too "marshmallow-y" and other complains that they are too "green sugary" so there's no pleasing everyone! :)

Minecraft "Creeps"

So, all in all, our Easter was like most every other holiday---just the five of us.  It makes me sad that we don't have the chance to spend holidays with family, but I'm always grateful for every holiday that we get to spend together---just the five of us.  :)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Is it Summer Yet?

So, I've got to tell's a tough life being an Army wife sometimes.  I won't turn this into a rant because it's not that, but it's been a trying time for me over the last few weeks.  The thing is--I know I'm not the only one dealing with parenting solo while my husband is away.  I know this for a certainty (a big shout-out to the three ladies I know within a few minutes of me who are also holding it down while their fellas are away) but it doesn't make my day-to-day any less hectic.

I haven't had time to write as often as I like, we have cereal for dinner, and I have to take all three kids grocery shopping (and I mean, we were out of food, had nothing left to eat, and we spent 3 hours going through my long list because no longer would a quick trip inside for milk and bread cut it).  And when Adam is away, I always think I'm going to get some big project done. HA!  I feel like a superhero if I can keep the laundry going, feed the kids three times each day, get some school work done, and shower.  And let me tell you, there are days one or more of those things don't get done.

Anyway...I just wanted to say

Fortunately, this weekend will bring some relief.  A lovely holiday weekend and the opportunity to spend time together as a family and hopefully with some friends.  I could use the time to connect with others.  :)

Is it Summer Yet?

Ok, so how was school this week?  It was kind of difficult.  The neighborhood kids are all on spring break and we got several little knocks on the door each day that it wasn't raining asking for the boys to be outside.  And the answer was always yes.  Even when they have chores to do or school work to finish, the answer was yes.  Maybe it shouldn't have been.  Maybe I should have insisted that they complete everything FIRST, but all work and no play makes for a very boring childhood.  :)

This week, Adisson finished up his Science unit of organisms and also started a new unit in Social Studies on geography (one of his favorite social studies topics).  He worked on his handwriting, very very reluctantly, and his math lessons.  He also climbed trees, played in the dirt, participated in a rousing game of viking wars with his little brother, and spent a ton of time on their new outdoor toy.

Zander has found a new love of Time4Learning when I was able to get it on his tablet!  Ohmygoodness!  He can do school ANYWHERE!  I think his favorite place so far has been on my bed when I'm working on laundry.  (I hate laundry.  Just wanted to say that.  IT.NEVER.ENDS.)  Between the new app, his Spelling City app, and some free puzzles online, he was left with just handwriting practice and reading to do "the old-fashioned way."

Upcoming Plans and Blog Posts

Like I said, hopefully we'll have some company for the weekend (WOO HOO!) with some Easter fun of coloring eggs with natural dyes for the first time, hunting for eggs in the yard, bonfire with s'mores, and a yummy Easter dinner.  I hope to take some great photos of the kids to share with y'all next week.

I also have some things I want to talk about here on the ol' blog next week like Adisson's entrepreneur venture, Co-op news and info., and a review of the play we saw last weekend.  I would have loved to have written all of those posts this week but I was busy ....with  life.  :)  You get it.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Latest News in Our Homeschool

Last week, I discussed the possibility of us joining a local homeschool co-op.  Today, I had the opportunity to attend the co-op Open House.  It was a wealth of information, almost too much, but in a good way!  I was able to learn of all the classes being offered for next school year and in most cases have the opportunity to meet with the teachers/homeschool moms who will be teaching those classes.

Upon arriving home, I talked with each of my sons about which class he'd like to take next year and what I thought about their choices.  They were each able to narrow it down to a few options in each time block and registration information was sent.  Now, we wait to find out if they got their desired classes.

Planning Ahead

Thinking about classes for next year's co-op also leads me to thinking of curriculum for next year.  Have you started with the planning that comes along with preparing for next year?  Fortunately, we are sticking with the same core curriculum.  We'll be using Time4Learning as we have for the last several years.  It's a great online curriculum, secular and Christian homeschooling alike.  We'll also be adding in any books that the boys will be using as part of co-op.  With a few of their choices, additional textbooks and materials will need to be purchased and they will have homework each week.  I want to incorporate their homework into their school days throughout the rest of the week.  Additionally, we'll be incorporating a music study and an art appreciation study.   I'm hoping to look for some of those resources at next month's NCHE Homeschool Conference and Book Fair.

One thing that I plan on doing before I attend the conference is to look through the lessons for both of the boys to see what we will be covering throughout next year.  For larger units, I like to purchase supplies, go-along books, and/or additional materials that will aid in their learning.  I like to be sure I have plenty of science tools on hand.  Fortunately, there's a handy resource guide for 6th grade science that I'll be able to reference when making a shopping list.

So, the co-op meeting went well, now we just wait to see if we get in to our first choice classes.  I'm planning for school next year.  And I can't wait to get to the NCHE Conference.  My brain is working overtime today!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

REVIEW: Hey Mom, I'll Start Dinner Cookbook

A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to review a cookbook for kids.  I'm not sure what I expected when I told my friend Beth at Acorn Hill Academy that I would write a review,  but I was blown away by what I actually received!

The cookbook is gorgeous!  I mean, look at it!  And if I thought the cover was great, I was in for an even greater treat inside.

Adisson is very interested in doing more cooking for the whole family.  He's always enjoyed being in the kitchen and helping me cook.  His little brothers want to get in on the fun when cake is involved but that's about it.  I knew this would be a great book for Adisson to use to get in the kitchen and learn how to cook without relying on me.  I want to be available for questions, but I want him to know he's capable of starting and finishing a meal all of us can eat--entirely on his own.

What I Loved About the Book

The layout is amazing.  The first few pages discuss how to get your children set up for success in the kitchen.  My fellas love to help out in the kitchen and even though they are responsible for unloading the dishwasher and putting away dishes, they still don't seem to know where everything belongs.  Discussing with them where I keep lesser known supplies and dishes was big help before we even got started with the cooking.

The incredible photos!  The pictures of supplies needed are great and the photo accompanying each recipe is wonderful!  When you see how awesome food can look at the end, it certainly inspires you to try it out!  Most of Adisson's decision making was inspired by the photos.

Tips from the author's sons.  Each recipe includes a tip from one of the author's sons.  My guys like to help out in the kitchen, Adisson especially.  I think being reminded that it's cool for boys to be in the kitchen made flipping through a cookbook sound more fun to the boys.  Plus, those tips are hilarious and helpful!

The ease of reading a recipe.  The aim of the cookbook is for kids with working parents (or parents who are busy outside of the home) to be able to start dinner prior to Mom & Dad getting home, finishing up anything more difficult with a parent (or finishing dinner if it's within their skill set), and having dinner with the family.  That being said, this cookbook worked wonderfully with our homeschooling family.  Each step is broken down very simply.  The progression of steps were easy enough for my 11 year old to understand the instructions, complete the task, and move on to the next step.

The FOOD!  The idea that my son(s) could make a homemade chicken pot pie was exciting!  Adisson hasn't attempted that recipe yet, as he's looking to try a few more out first, but he's anxious to get to that pot pie!

McGhee Tested Recipes

First Up: Pancakes
So far, Adisson has tried out two recipes from the cookbook.  First up was pancakes.  Confession time: When I make pancakes, I buy a box of pancake mix that requires only water.  This recipe called for several more ingredients and Adisson was anxious to try it out!

He first gathered all of the ingredients and supplies needed.  He donned his apron and got started.

Got his apron on, ready to cook!

He asked if I was staying in the kitchen to help him, but I told him I had a few other things to do.  I stayed within earshot of him, in case he truly had a question, but I wanted him to try hard to do this on his own.  He measured and mixed and then it was time for the griddle.  He's helped turn pancakes for me for a few years, but he's never poured the batter onto the griddle.  But now he was ready.

And we had pancakes!  Everyone loved them and we had enough leftover to freeze for another time! He was so proud to be able to start from nothing but a few ingredients and put together something so yummy.  His brothers love pancakes and raved about how well Adisson did with this meal.   Recipe success!


Next up: No Bake Cookies
No Bake Cookies are beloved in this household.  Back when Adisson was just a little guy, I secured the best No Bake Cookie recipe from one of the greatest bakers I dad.  I've used this recipe since my pictured chef was tiny and these are still cookies we make at least once a month.  I was delighted to find basically the same recipe in the cookbook!  Adisson knew right away it was on his "Must Make" list.

Even though he made these recipes on separate days,
he insisted on wearing the same shirt, it's his "cooking shirt" he said.  

Little bit of help from an awesome little brother.

Ohhhhh, the fun part!


About the Author

Because this cookbook is so amazing, I know you're going to want to follow Cherilyn everywhere!  You are in luck!  You can find her on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter!

You can also find the cookbook on Hey Mom, I'll Start Dinner and Amazon.   Plus, can see sample pages at the website!  Seriously, check out those sample pages because you will love them!


Ok, so now the fun part!  Giveaways!  There's a BIG GIVEAWAY going on with some incredible prizes and my giveaway!  First up, I'm giving away a free ebook to a very lucky winner!  You can enter my giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Next up is the big, awesome giveaway.  It ends soon so please, please, please enter right now, today, don't wait, ENTER!!  You'll see the prizes below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  I was given a copy of Hey Mom, I'll Start Dinner in exchange for my review.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

To Co-Op or Not to Co-Op?

One facet of homeschooling we are considering is whether or not to join a co-op.  This isn't the first time in our homeschooling adventure that we have entertained that idea.  This will actually be our third attempt, if we opt to consciously couple ourselves with a local co-op.

Why hasn't a co-op worked in for our family in the past?

Typically, as part of a co-op, you have to volunteer in some way, usually by teaching (or co-teaching) a class.  Co-ops haven't worked for us in the past mainly for that reason.  It's not that I don't want to volunteer, quite the opposite actually.  When my fellas are participating in something, I'm ready to get in there and offer my assistance in any way that would be helpful.  I haven't been able to teach a class in the past because of Jaxon's behavioral issues.  Either he won't allow me to devote attention to any other child or he's screaming to ensure my attention is focused solely on him.  Suppose those two examples are pretty much the same, huh?  Alternatively, when I've attempted to leave him in childcare in an unfamiliar place, he doesn't handle that well--even if we keep trying.

The biggest reason I think that our family might be ready this time around is because of the type of co-op that we're considering.  I don't have to volunteer to teach a class.  In fact, teachers for the fall and the class schedule has already been decided.  There's an Open House next week and Adisson and I going to check it out.

Have you ever participated in a co-op?  What are you thoughts on the benefits of a homeschool co-op?  I'll be sure to share my thoughts after next week's Open House!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Actually, it's more Winner, Winner, Family Registration to Awesome Homeschool Conference, but that doesn't have the same ring, does it?

In case you missed it, I gave away a FREE Family Registration to this year's NCHE Homeschool Conference in Winston-Salem!  I didn't have too many entrants, but that meant more chances for those who did enter!  If you entered by liking me on facebook or twitter, then thank you so much for the follow!

So, let's get to it....who was the winner??!!

Congratulations!  I hope you have an incredible time at the conference!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Two Speeds: Busy and Busier

As usual, last week was another busy one at the McGhee household and the week ahead promises to be even busier.  In addition to school, work, Scouts, and continuing spring cleaning, I'm also really itching to work on a new craft project I've recently begun.  One day, I'm going to finally perfect the time management skills I need.  Well, maybe not.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we'll be starting a family Scouting blog.  We're working on it now so I hope to release it to the whole wide world in just a few weeks.  Since I talk about Scouting so often on this blog, that's definitely going to create a void in my subject matter.  To keep you abreast of what we're doing around here, I will tell you that my Boy Scout has been working on an exciting new venture for himself.  In an effort to raise money to pay for Summer Camp, he's setting up a table at a craft fair next weekend!  He'll be selling paracord items that he's made.  We have SO MUCH work to do this week to get ready.

Homeschool is Cool School

So, as far as school goes, we're starting to wrap this year up and we're ready to be done.  We finally have the sunny weather we've been awaiting and the boys are desperate to be outside as much as possible.  Personally, I'd love to spend each day laying in a hammock on the beach reading books to the kids. The addition of new outdoor toy also lends itself to additional "recess" time.

It's a Razor Power Ride 360.  And it's awesome!
Here is Adisson taking it on a spin.

This week, we'll be working on some Scout stuff as part of our school work.  Adisson is finishing up a merit badge and Zander is trying to earn his Science pin.  Zander even sat down with me to pick out the pin requirements he'd like to work on this week.  He's most excited about making a collection of rocks (that's the Minecraft fan in him) and performing a science experiment in front of an audience (his family).  We've been looking up a few different experiments and I think we found one that will be great for the pin and as a force and motion lesson.  I'll hopefully catch a few photos of that process.

He is just such a sweetheart.  

Upcoming Posts

I have some posts coming up this week that I'm excited to post regarding end of year testing (required in North Carolina) and whether or not we're ready to try a co-op again...for the third time.  :)  Plus, I had the chance to review what I think is the best kids cookbook I've ever read.  Stay tuned, friends.

This is how I found my little monster and the fat cat we call Earl.
On Adisson's bed while Adi was away camping.