Some 2019 Positives

Last year wasn’t the easiest year for my family. We suffered some loss and some scares and some really hard things. The year got off to a bad start with a terrible scare and I think the anger and resentment from that started festering deep in my gut. I just shoved it down and refused to deal with it. And, as the year progressed, I found myself sinking down into a dark place. Oddly enough, as I talk with friends about 2019, many of them found themselves in a dark place by the end of the year as well.

As I was talking to one friend in particular last night, I realized that all of my negatives were clouding my view of the year though we experienced some great things. I don’t want to remember only the bad things so today I want to give space to some positives of 2019.

It was an amazing year of baseball for Kaleb! He started on a brand new journey of public school baseball in January. He was able to join the high school baseball team he has dreamed of playing for since he was little. He had to sit out the first season due to homeschool laws but he practiced with the team and got to know them and the coaches. He was able to play in a couple junior varsity games as well.

He also played his last year of Little League baseball. It was probably the best year he has ever played. He was asked to be on the Little League All Star team for his age group, and they placed 2nd in the tournament. His dream of owning a Little League ring was finally realized!

Since it was his last year of eligibility, we also allowed him to play on a travel ball team. We were CRAZY busy between February and June! Three baseball teams plus our younger ones playing soccer! We always said we would never allow it but it was his last year to play travel ball as well as his last year to play on the same team as his best friend. And it was worth all the driving and money and exhaustion. They played in the state tournament and, even though they came up short, it was such a fun season. So good to see all those boys play together one last time.

Joshua and Drake played spring soccer. I coached Joshua’s team for the second time and enjoyed it. I don’t know much about soccer but we learned together and celebrated an undefeated season. Drake enjoyed his season as well. I didn’t get to see any many of his games since I was coaching.

The summer brought many days at the water park. We had season passes so we aimed to spend as much time as possible there. We had a lot of fun with friends and consumed many snow cones.

Sometime in the middle of all the baseball and swimming, I decided to take over our homeschool group’s co-op again. I didn’t think I would ever be in charge of co-op again when I resigned many years ago but there was a need and a new leadership. I felt such a deep conviction to step up. Shortly after becoming co-op head chair, I also agreed to be on the group’s board which is another position I never thought I would have again. But I am SO grateful that I did. The new board and co-op committee had many struggles over the next several months but we would help each other through some tough personal times as the year went on. We rallied around each other on numerous occasions. I’m so thankful for their encouragement and support.

Two good friends, the hubs, and I went to see the Goo Goo Dolls and Train in concert. Soooooo good. So. So. Good.

In July, we went on a family vacation to Minnesota. We have family in both Kansas City and Minneapolis. We stopped and spent a few days with our KC family before going north. We went to Mall of America, spent a more than a few hours at Nickelodeon Universe. We visited the small town a little further north were my husband grew up. And, to Kaleb’s delight, we attended a Twins game. (It was a fun experience for us all.) In between all that, we spent many hours hanging out with family and catching up. Other highlights for the boys included Caribou Coffee, Pizza Ranch, and Yoyo Donuts. Ha! Growing boys love food!

I have to admit…I am thankful for that time of rest because things quickly went downhill after our vacation. I know good things had to have happened in August but we were hit hard with a few personal and family issues that just came one right after the other. I was in a fog of anger, confusion, fear, and despair. Those feelings carried over into the rest of the year.

But there were some good moments:

  1. Adopting Oreo for my sweet oldest grand wins the most tender moment of 2019. I will cherish that day for the rest of my life.
  2. Grand birthdays (all but one in the fall) because their happiness always sparks my happiness.
  3. A wildly successful co-op after so many struggles to pull it together.
  4. A full house at Thanksgiving with family, friends, and even people I didn’t know.
  5. The boys’ annual Christmas party that finally sparked some Christmas spirit in my heart.
  6. A much needed quick trip to KC with an old and dear friend and her daughter who is a wonderful friend to my boys.
  7. The KC family coming down for Christmas because people who get you and love you unconditionally are the best when you’re struggling.
  8. And as always watching the boys and grands open their presents from us. If anything can bring joy to my heart, it’s seeing it on their faces.
  9. And because I wanted to end the year surrounded by that joy, our NYE party with the boys and grands.
  10. And someone who doesn’t even know what she did for me this fall. The children’s pastor of our church faithfully scheduled me to serve and teach a bunch of 4-6 year olds every two weeks. Even when I just wanted to sit in darkness, I found light and joy and love in that room of kiddos. It’s always fun to teach them but it was especially needed it in this season. We talked about Jesus, had Thanksgiving and Christmas parties, learned Bible verses that I think I needed more than they did. It was a precious time that I didn’t know I needed.
  11. Lastly, the hubs who is always my encouraging rock. He’s always my biggest cheerleader and supporter. We had a year filled with many perfect moments.

My hope is that 2020 is a year of rest and healing. I didn’t make any resolutions. I don’t even have a One Little Word really. I just want to enjoy family and friends, have new adventures, and get back to the light. I’ve had enough of the darkness. I want to find joy and contentment and space to just breath out the pain of 2019.

Week 18: Oh How I love a Good Routine

Our sweet Kaya, lying so quietly and patiently under my chair.

I love when we get into a good rhythm. Our time flows smoothly. We have time for all the things. Everyone feels good about our day. A good routine just makes life easier, right? I don’t mean a schedule. I am not a strict scheduling kind of girl. I like margin. White space. Time to just be. I feel like when I try to schedule our day, I always over schedule, never include enough time, and most always set myself up for failure. I end up rushing our read aloud time and boys’ creative activities. I feel like I must plan every single minute. And we never have free time to just be. I feel like a drill sergeant. Schedules aren’t bad! Some people thrive on a schedule. I prefer a routine. If we don’t get started right at 8am, that’s ok. We can still do the same things…just a little later in the morning. If we need to shift to the afternoon, we still have our routine…just later in the day. If everyone gets up early….you see what I mean. We simply follow our daily routine regardless when we begin. And when we get into our groove….it’s magical.

We had such a great week. A couple bumps in the road but mostly just a lovely week of learning. We began a moon study in anticipation of the coming lunar eclipse. The boys and I each did watercolor painting of a full moon, we read various books, and watched a wonderful documentary about the Apollo 11 landing. If you’re interested in reading more, I shared about our moon week in a separate post.

We had a few frustrations on Tuesday so instead of giving up the day (still remembering the wise words of Bob Schultz), we headed to a local lake for a quick nature walk. I wanted to see if the waterfall at the lake had any water flowing. It did not disappoint. In all we only walked about a mile, but it was pretty cold and muddy. We took time to pick individual trees for the new year. While we are relatively new to tree study, I like that some of the trees at the lake are labeled. We will continue our tree study into this week after we finish up our moon study.

I have to say…the rest of the week was pretty uneventful. My husband had to borrow my truck on Wednesday so it was just a full day of school and relaxing for us. The same for Thursday. That routine, you guys! On Friday, I took my teenager for his first sports physical. That was quite the experience for him!

Thanks to routine and a slow calendar, we had an awesome (but maybe a little boring?) week. Truth be told….I hope we have many, many more!

Week 17: A Lesson in Perseverence (for Mom)

A couple of years ago, I made a wonderful discovery. Someone on Instagram suggested a book by Bob Schultz. It was called Boyhood & Beyond. I’m not one to love gender-specific books but this one grabbed me. I always thought it was funny how I would read a chapter aloud to the boys….and realize the lesson was meant for me. Ha!

Fast forward to January 7th of this year. A lesson from another of his books, Created for Work. As soon as I read the first sentence, I knew this was for me. And it was timely. Sometime in 2018, developed this bad habit of giving up when things don’t go the way I planned. Or our school day gets interrupted by life. Or the boys aren’t listening well. Or I just feel cranky. What made it worse was that I knew exactly what the problem was (me) but I didn’t care. Last year wasn’t great. A lot of struggles…physical and emotional. And my attitude about a lot of things (all the things) stunk. Preparing for 2019, I seriously wanted to tackle this bad habit. I knew my attitude was one reason our homeschool suffered so much last year, and I didn’t want that for my boys.

So Bob Schultz reminded me that I didn’t want to live like that. When things get tough, keep going. Don’t crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head. Don’t give up. Don’t let little things turn into big things. No matter what…keep going.

And like I said, timely. Ha! Our Monday did not go as planned. As soon as our morning group work ended, the struggles started. Boys fussing at each other. Not listening to me. Not doing their schoolwork. And I just wanted to throw in the towel. I remembered what I had just read to the boys about perseverance, and how I admitted to them that this lesson was just as much for me as them. I didn’t want them to think I was a hypocrite.

After a frustrating morning and lunch time, we all had some frustration to burn off. It was such a beautiful day and sunshine always makes me feel better so we headed outside for some yard work. Cleaning neglected fence lines is some serious work, you guys! After a couple hours, we were worn out, relaxed, and ready to restart our day. We loaded up into the truck to mail my teenager’s testing packet back to Seton, made a stop at Sonic for Happy Hour….we needed some happy, and then we hit the ground running as soon as we got back home.

Big lesson for mom: (and I know I already knew this…you probably do too) Mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. My attitude sets the tone for our home, and can make or break our day. When I chose to keep going even when things stink, they are encouraged to keep going. When I bring my A game, they do too. They are learning how to act and react to situations by watching how I act and react. Gosh, I know this! But I guess I let myself forget it last year. Anyway so Monday wasn’t great but it was DONE. And I carried Bob Schultz’s words with me throughout the rest of our week.

After such a bad start to the week, I felt we needed a warmer, cozier start to our Tuesday. I prepped as much as I could the night before and then surprised the boys with a Poetry Tea Time breakfast. They had French toast and hot chocolate. We lit candles, and took turns reading winter poetry to each other. It was the BEST. They loved it, I loved it….and it set us up for a great day. Bonus: my dyslexic kiddo who never wants to read anything in front of anyone, including his brothers, read a poem to us!! It was such a sweet moment. His brothers listened quietly while he took his time to sound out difficult words and sometimes get Mom’s help. And then he re-read each line in a funny voice! So fun! We were all proud of him!

Wednesday was more of the same. Sweet, cozy school day. We did all the things, worked together, and enjoyed our day.

And again on Thursday, except I had a little surprise up my sleeve. The boys’ Nana gave them each a Chuck E Cheese gift card for Christmas. We had planned to go that Friday but I decided we earned an early treat. After completing most of our schoolwork that morning, we jumped in the truck and headed to town for some CEC fun.

Friday night brought another AH-mazing surprise. My dyslexic kiddo. He’s pretty stinking awesome! We didn’t get time during the day to complete his reading work so we tackled it after dinner. He sat and read all of his fluency words to me. I posted about it on Instagram. You’re welcome to pop over there and read about it.

We ended the week in a much better place than we started it. So thankful for a great week, authors who encourage (even those not in their intended audience), and so much grace. I hope your week is great….and if it isn’t, I hope you find the courage to persevere.

What We Are Reading-Jan 2019

Disclosure: The links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will make a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. I would never recommend a book that I haven’t read myself or approved for my boys.

You guys! We are reading SO many good books this month. Some are continued from last month, others are new for us, and a few are just the next in the series we’re currently reading. The boys are begging for me to keep reading during our read aloud times and Kaleb keep asking if he has to stop reading his current individual read. That’s good news, right?

So let’s start with our current read alouds. I read a LOT of our books during our group work in the morning. We also have an afternoon read aloud and a bedtime read aloud. Some go along with our history or science or Language Arts and others are just books that I want to read aloud to them. I love reading aloud and the boys enjoy it, too. Even Dad gets invested in our bedtime read alouds!

Our current group work read alouds:

Little Pilgrim’s Progress. We’ve really drawn this one out for too long. Ha! It has super short chapters and we read 1-4 chapters a week. We put it away sometimes and pick up back up other times. We are so close to being finished with it….and they are read to be done. We have absolutely enjoyed it but like I said, seems like we’ve been reading it forever (because we kinda have).

The Chronicles of Narnia! I am excited to be reading this aloud with the boys! I’ve never read them myself so it’s been fun for all of us. It took a bit to get the boys interested. We just finished The Magician’s Nephew and they are HOOKED! I’m so glad because I am too! We started it last fall, just reading a chapter or two a week. It quickly became a fave so we upped to a chapter every school day. We set it aside during December though to pick up some Christmas books (which we’re still reading!). They were super happy to get back to Narnia this month. We are now in the second book in the series: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Tales of Egypt. I have to admit…it’s a tough one to read. I keep having to Google pronounciations! Ha! And it definitely isn’t a favorite among any of us. It’s going along well with our ancient history, though. We are about 1/3 of the way through….and everyone will be happy when we finish it. I have a couple more Ancient Egypt books that I would love to read but I’m not sure we’ll get to them at this point. And that’s fine too. I have MANY Ancient Rome and Greece books that look great!

The Cat of Bubastes: A Tale of Ancient Egypt. Another history read aloud but we are all listening to this one on Audible. My voice can’t handle all of the reading we do as a group in the morning. Ha! I appreciate a little break every now and then.

The Cricket in Times Square. We are reading this in conjunction with our Bravewriter language arts program. We haven’t made it a priority so it’s been slow going. That will change in 2019. We are stepping up our commitment to Bravewriter. I love the program and I know my boys will benefit from it so it needs to be a priority. We are only a few chapters into this book.

Our current afternoon read aloud is The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place book 1: The Mysterious Howling. I have had the first two books in this series for about a year now, but we just started reading it this week. We’re only a few chapters in but I think the boys will love it. They say they need to reserve opinions until they get a few more chapters in. Ha!

Our current bedtime read aloud is The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. It was our last Christmas read that we just haven’t finished yet. We will easily finish this month and, if they enjoy it, we’ll probably read another book about the Vanderbeekers. I think there are three total?

My boys’ current individual reads:

Kaleb started this school year with the Harry Potter books. They weren’t holding his attention so he switched to a different book after the new year. He is currently reading Hatchet. He LOVES it and asks if he can keep reading after our individual reading time is over. YAY! Of course, it’s right up his alley. He loves books on wilderness survival.

Gabriel will finish up Winter War from the Prince Warriors series by Priscilla Shirer. He has loved this series! He started it when it first came out last year but put it away to read The Outsiders, a book his uncle sent to him that he LOVED so much he’s now re-reading it in his own time. His new individual read is The Sword of Summer from the Magnus Chase series. I hope he loves this series! I want to read it myself!

Drake and Joshua listen to books on Audible. Drake is dyslexic and struggles to read for pleasure. He is doing so much better but still likes to listen to books being read to him. Joshua, of course, is just beginning to read so Audible just makes it easier for everyone. They have been listening to Fifty Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin. They are just about finished so I think they will go to Myths that Every Child Should Know.

Drake and I are reading a series he found at a local library sale called The Three Investigators. I don’t know how many are in the series but he found about 10 or so for only 25 cents each. It was the first time he has been interested in any kind of book so I definitely snatched up every one of the books in the series. We are currently reading The Secret of Terror Castle. We take turns reading so he doesn’t feel overwhelmed but still get the feeling of reading on his own. It’s a BIG confidence builder!

Finally, I am always reading some kind of fantasy fiction on Kindle but nothing super spectacular lately. One of my goals for the year is to read more non-fiction. I’m such a book hopper when it comes to non-fiction…reading a chapter or two in one book before jumping over to read a couple chapters in another. I am working through several but my main focus is on Girl, Wash Your Face this week. If I finish that one before the end of the month, I’ll finish Everybody Always by Bob Goff. I’ll share a couple others next month.

See? So. Many. Good. Books! It’s going to be a great reading month. I love it! My read aloud list is always growing and growing…my Amazon book wish lists are insane! Ha! I wish I could read through them faster but I definitely want to enjoy our current reads. I would love to know what you and your family have been reading lately!

Week 16: Back 2 School…after the holidays

That first week back is always a doozy, you know?! To kind of help us get back into the swing of things after a long Christmas break, I decided to jump right back in the day after New Years Day. It was also the day Dad went back to work and only three days left in the week so a nice little transition for us. I tried to keep it super cozy and low key, although Drake’s math stress is pretty evident in this picture. He was not enjoying it!

We got back to our usual read aloud, The Magician’s Nephew. We only have a couple chapters left and boys have absolutely LOVED this book! I’ve never read The Chronicles of Narnia before so I’m loving it as well. We aren’t quite finished with our Christmas read aloud but we’ll finish that one up in the evenings.

A new learning adventure for me is the Instant Pot that I received from a friend for Christmas. It’s a little intimidating! I’ve had it since about the middle of December but finally decided this would be the week I would use it….at least once! I did the water test and that wasn’t so bad but I really just wanted to be done with it and fix dinner a different way. The hubs talked me into going ahead with some chicken. Seemed like an easy one to do. We just put four chicken breasts in the pot and topped with a Ranch Fiesta seasoning packet. The suggested time was a little misleading since it only shows the actual cooking time. I wasn’t expecting to wait an additional 10 minutes for it to build pressure. Makes sense…I just wasn’t expecting it. We all enjoyed the chicken though even the boy who usually refuses to eat chicken. I tried hard boiling eggs, using the 5-5-5 method. That was definitely easy peasy. I’m not sure how I feel about the Instant Pot just yet but I will definitely use it again soon….if for nothing more than to boil more eggs. Ha!

We managed to spend Monday afternoon to Friday morning at home. The boys and I literally went nowhere! Actually I think a boy snuck out with Dad to run some errands one evening. But I stayed in pjs all week long! I spent the time we weren’t doing school work putting away Christmas decor and getting the house back in order. And I read a lot. Two books down in 2019 already! So great. I’ll admit….it was a little tough, getting ready on Friday to pick up groceries. Ha! After I declared all the Christmas decor put away for the year, I walked out of my house on Friday and on to the Christmas welcome mat. What! I knew I’d end up overlooking something. Thankfully, the hubs hasn’t put the storage tubs in the attic yet.

My teenager spent his Saturday afternoon with his oldest brother tackling a standardized test. It isn’t required of homeschoolers in our state unless you want to play public school sports. He was a little nervous about it but after I glanced through the material, I had to assure him that he will do just fine. He doesn’t have anything to worry about. I just hope we get the results back SOON since public school here starts back on Monday. It has been a little bit of a rushed experience but I believe he will enjoy himself as soon as we get through all of the hoop jumping.

Our first week back to school wasn’t super structured but it was definitely a good one! Productive. Cozy. Laid back. I want continue the cozy school theme. Hot cocoa, warm blankets, and a lot of learning. A lot of reading! Maybe I can find some fun documentaries on history or something for us to watch. I want to move forward in our schoolwork but I still want to keep that super relaxed feeling from our break going. I know a lot of homeschoolers AND public schoolers starting back this Monday. I wish you the best first week back from break possible! I hope you get to carry that cozy, relaxed break feeling into your school week.

2019 New Year Homeschool Goals

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a fantastic holiday season! We had so much fun during our holiday break. We baked so many cookies, attended some awesome Christmas parties, and had fun with Dad who took off the week of Christmas. So many great Christmas memories!

I have to admit, though…I’m kind of happy to see 2018 go far, far away. Between three broken bones, an emergency surgery, a sprain, a brown recluse bite, (and that was just between two of us!) in addition to so.many.family.problems, it was a rough one.

There were some super great highlights though: a short but sweet girls only trip to the beach, a couple months of watching the cutest grand toddlers and grandbaby, a few good field trips, plenty of baseball and soccer, fun concerts, many game nights with friends and family, and of course our awesome holiday season. The good completely outweighed the bad….when I take the time to actually think about it.

One area in 2018 where I feel I failed more often than not was our homeschool. We never got off to a good start this school year. Too many commitments. Too many outside activities. Too many HUGE expectations on my part. And not near enough planning. We had fun and we’ve learned a lot, but we could have (should have) done so much more. We already started back this week after a long holiday break. However, I’m still working on a plan for finishing out this school year. So here is my short but hopefully effective goals list for 2019:

  1. No more outside commitments. We already have commitments with church, one of our homeschool co-ops as well as Little League sports, and of course family commitments which I wouldn’t change for the world. And we have one BIG new commitment beginning this semester: Kaleb will be joining a local high school’s baseball team. He will be required to attend 7th period every school day as well as the after school practice and games. He’s actually attending our neighboring school district as ours doesn’t have a baseball team so I will be responsible for driving him to and from practice each day. Thankfully, a neighbor’s son who is also homeschooling attends the same hour as Kaleb so we will be able to car pool a little. So the goal is to not add any additional commitments. Along with that, I am only going to teach one class during co-op. Well…the same class x 3. I will be teaching all three hours BUT it will basically be the same subject.
  2. Monthly, weekly, daily routines. We did SO well with this…until about Thanksgiving. Then the holiday madness kicked in and we let it all fall away. We completed more of our schoolwork AND household chores once we got on a good routine though. It just made life so much easier to know exactly what was coming up next. Even on days when we started late, we still knew exactly what we needed to do and got it done. So. Much. Productivity. I want to get back to this and even dig in a little deeper. It just works that well for us.
  3. Weekly prep. This is a must. And I have failed miserably at it this school year. I usually do a big once a year planning weekend during the summer where I get every subject planned out, all the printables printed, all the supplies bought and organized, all the things done so that I could just grab the file of our current week…and get to work. I didn’t do any of that. I wasn’t prepared properly when we started school….and I’ve been playing catch up ever since. The only thing left for me to do this late in the game is to use the weekend to fully prep for the upcoming week. Maybe I can do some catch up in the next month or so while we have some downtime from most of our outside activities, but really I just need to commit to that weekly prep. Our homeschool would run so much smoother.
  4. Blog and YouTube. I’ll be honest: we get more done when I’m held accountable. And blogging about our weeks does that for me. Knowing that I will be publicly recording our homeschool is so motivating. And let’s be honest….my attempts at blogging the last few years have been pitiful. I love looking back on those years when I regularly blogged about our homeschool. I wish I had a better record of the last few. I can do better. And I will. I also want to get back to posting YouTube videos. I enjoy watching and reading about other homeschools and the community is such a blessing to a mama who spends a lot of her time at home. I decided last month that we would give YouTube a retry so I deleted all the videos I had previously posted in preparation….I just couldn’t look at them. Ha! The boys and I will start over some time this month. Slowly but surely! I’m committing for sure to weekly blog posts and possible bi-weekly YouTube videos. We’ll see how it goes. I have a teenager who would LOVE to edit my videos for me so that is a HUGE bonus.
  5. Be more intentional. This really is the sum of the four previous goals but I feel it needs its own space. I have to see it to believe it. Out of sight, out of mind. Or something like that. More intentional with my time, my boys’ time, our family time, our outside commitments. All of it really. Make it count. You know when you fix an amazing dinner and have leftovers? You put them in the fridge with the intention of having all that yummy for lunch the next day. Then you forget. And it sits there in the fridge. You might see it later and think you’ll have it the next day. No worries! Right? But then you forget again. And eventually you have to throw the whole thing….container and all…into the trash because it’s become a science experiment gone wrong. That’s kind of how I feel the first half of our school year turned out. I kept forgetting/putting off the good stuff. The things that make our homeschool fun. And eventually we got sucked into a super busy (but so fun) holiday season. None of the good stuff I wanted to do actually got done. I think the biggest reason for that was my lack of intention. I just didn’t make time for those things to happen. I spent a lot of the last few months thinking we would eventually get to it but we never did. So I am going to work on being more intentional. Use my time wisely by making sure I don’t over-commit our family, reestablishing those routines that work so well for us, planning ahead with good solid prep time on the weekends, and holding myself accountable through this blog and social media.

I fully believe that, if I stick to these goals, we will accomplish so much more in our homeschool and finish out the year with a BANG! And part of making that happen is accountability so thank you, WWW, for holding me accountable! Ha! I look forward to the next few months and learning alongside my boys. It’s a new year. A new start. And I’m more excited about this last part of our school year than I was when we started it. Better late than never, I guess. Hope you all are off to a great start on your new year. If you’ve made some new homeschool goals for 2019, I would love to read about them. Happy 2019!!

The End of Our First Term

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We did it! We survived our first full term of a Charlotte Mason education. Whew! We are currently finishing up a week long break with Dad.

Such a great term. We learned SO MUCH good stuff.

Stuff we would have missed out on if not for a friend posting about her favorite CM podcasts last December.  I can’t believe the richness of our mornings.  It wasn’t all perfect, but I learned what works, what doesn’t, what needs work, and what needs more of my attention.

So here is the truth, the goodness, and the beauty of our first term.

All the field trips! My goal this year was the same as last….go on as many field trips as possible. Educational field trips. Fun field trips. Messy field trips. Loud field trips. Friend field trips. A few of our faves in no particular order:

We went to a free performance by a local orchestra. The boys always say they won’t like it, but end up loving it.

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Our local Charlotte Mason group took a road trip to a Cherokee event in Oklahoma. The boys visited a small village, heard a Native American story, and tried their hand (and foot) at a few Cherokee games, crafts, and activities. At the end of the day, they each earned an arrowhead by completing several of those tasks. The favorites of the day were learning how to use blowguns and all of the games. And as many wild and free kiddos, ours found a small stream to stomp in and explore.

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One of best things to come from starting a Charlotte Mason group in my area is all of the moms coming together to share their ideas for our group. One amazing mama suggested (and organized) a literary club for our group. We read one book each quarter as a family and then meet up as a group for an activity and group discussion.  Charlotte’s Web was the fall selection and we had such a great time with this book! The boys LOVED the book and the movie. Then we met with our friends at the local state fair to check out all of the farm animals, eat fair food, and of course ride the fair rides!

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We met up with our Charlotte Mason group at a local state park for the solar eclipse. The park rangers put together an informative event for all ages. We watched the eclipse through our glasses as well as the homemade viewers provided by the park. While waiting for the full eclipse (or as full as it was going to get in our area), we of course went down to the little creek and splashed around. After the eclipse event, we went on a small nature walk to the dam. The kids had so much fun climbing around on the rocks and on top of the dam.  I’ll admit….I wasn’t entirely comfortable with it but I did let the older boys roam around for a bit. Ha!

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Of course we had to visit a local pumpkin patch! We met up with another local homeschool group for some fall fun….hayride, lunch under the trees, corn maze, and a lot of fun activities on the farm. Each of the boys brought home a small pumpkin that they carved as soon as we finished up our pumpkin unit.

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Aaaand that isn’t even all of our field trips. Ha! We averaged about one a week! So many fun memories! We have several more coming up that I know the boys are going to love. Maybe I’ll get my act together and post more regularly so we can share all of our fun with you all.

Fall means football and soccer around here.  One of our boys played football this year. This is Gabriel’s last year of Little League so I’m interested to see if he plays with the school next year.  He enjoyed his team and of course had a lot of fun.  He said he made more tackles this year than last…improvement! He thought it was fun to be in the local high school homecoming parade with his team AND his team place 2nd in the league. Now that the season has ended, we will celebrate next week at their party!

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Two of our boys played soccer this year.  Drake has played before and loves soccer, but this was Joshua’s first year to play.  Both did well with their teams.  Poor Drake’s team was always short-handed due to illness, family vacations, and other issues but they played their hearts out.  Soccer is definitely Drake’s favorite sport and it shows! Joshua enjoyed his team.  He ended up being the only boy on the team but he didn’t mind! They had so much fun and his coaches were the sweetest mamas who loved on all the kids.

We also participated in a local homeschool’s 8 week co-op. We don’t use co-op for educational purposes but they always do learn so much.  Mostly, though, co-op is a social outlet for us, an additional opportunity for the boys to spend time with their friends. The boys had some great classes!

Kaleb took a class on criticism and propaganda, a games class, and a puppet ministry class. I think his favorite was the puppet ministry class! He found a love of puppeteering in that class and has even been offered an opportunity to share his skill with our church in the kids’ ministry! The class performed a hilarious skit at our presentation night.

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Gabriel took a fine arts class and found a love of drawing. He also took a diy class along with Drake and made some pretty amazing things including a few gifts for their mama!

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Along with the diy class, Drake took one of my classes on odd creatures. We had SO much fun in that class! He declared my class his fave! He also took a games class.

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This was Joshua’s first year to move out of the preschool block and into the “big kid” classes.  He took a games class and has fallen in love with Uno! He also took a class on rabbits and learned SO much. Then his 3rd class was with me in a younger odd creatures class.

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The other class I taught was a Story + Art class. I have five little ones and had so much fun with them.  My other two classes were fairly large so it was nice to have such a small group in between the two big classes.

So in the middle of co-op, sports, and all the field trips…..we did get some schooling done! Ha! It wasn’t as full as I would have liked but it was good. I am SO looking forward to term two with fewer interruptions and slower days.

What did we love?

  • All the read alouds! I am reading almost all of our morning time books out loud and we just love it. The boys are doing SO well with narrations. Even my boy who was struggling to narrate even a sentence at the beginning of the year is easily and confidently narrating chapter after chapter AND recalling the previous days’ reading. That in itself makes my heart smile SO big that my eyes leak every time I think about it.  Narrating has been such a blessing to this guy who struggles with any kind of reading.
  • History! Again all those read alouds.  Real books! We aren’t tied to a textbook but enjoying personal stories of famous people from the past, digging deeper into events that interest us, and linking all of that with geography. So fun.
  • Bible study. The boys remind me every morning that we must begin with our devotional reading and Bible story.
  • And, surprisingly, our memory work. We’ve memorized so many things this term! Poems, songs, Bible passages, and so much more.

What didn’t go well?

  • Science, although it’s all my fault. I just failed. Didn’t have the materials needed. Forgot about it, even though it’s on my schedule! This is an area that will definitely improve in our 2nd term.
  • Handicrafts. I think only because we were so busy with other activities that we just didn’t get to the handicrafts I had planned. However, I must remind myself that all four boys took handicraft classes in co-op! Even though my plan didn’t happen, they still succeeded with handicrafts. Most of term two will consist of many Christmas gifts being made by the boys so we’ll certainly get our fill soon.
  • Art and composer study. Again, I think just the lack of time. This is another area I will work to improve in the next term.
  • Nature Study. Same as above. Just not enough time but will improve next term.

Our greatest success? I am thrilled to pieces that Drake’s phonics program is working brilliantly for him. We’re using All About Reading….and the kid is READING! He was diagnosed with dyslexia this past May and we immediately switched to AAR. It’s worked wonders. His confidence has soared! We’re working hard on fluency right now. I see him just continuing to improve and grow his love of books. I have to credit this amazing Charlotte Mason education.  Our short lessons, read alouds, and hands-on time have absolutely contributed to his success.

Whew! If you stuck with me through all of that, give yourself a high five! This is why I need to update more often. Ha!

All in all, we have had the most amazing start to our school year.  I see where we need improvement. I see what we’ve done well. And I see all of the learning that has taken place. It’s been fun and real and exhausting….and I’ve loved every single second. So thankful for our Charlotte Mason education. Looking forward to term two and all the good stuff to come.

I am off to enjoy the last few days of our “staycation” with the hubs. I will miss having all this free time when we start back to school and work next week. Mostly, I’ll miss hanging out with this guy.

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Please comment with a link to your blog. I would love to read about your Charlotte Mason home! Also please join me on Instagram. I post waaaay too many pictures over there about our school and daily life.

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Week 4: The One with NB2S Fun

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Happy Not Back To School Day!!!  Our local public school started back on Monday so, as per our tradition, we had a FUN day.  Just a day to celebrate being homeschoolers, not getting up to catch the bus, being able to schedule our day the way we like it, having fun with friends, and, well, being lazy if we want!

Our day started off with sleeping in as late as we want. Well, that didn’t work out quite as well as it has in previous years. Knowing that I traditionally have some NB2S goodies waiting for them in the kitchen on NB2S day, Gabriel was actually up at around 5am. He thoughtfully stayed in bed until the sun rose, thankfully.  I didn’t bother getting up with them…I knew they would eventually find their new things and have fun pouring over them without me.

Their goodies include a new fun shirt (for NB2S pictures of course!), some yummy snacks, school supplies, and whatever other little trinkety things I might find. Since fidget spinners are all the rage this year, they each received one in their school color. Well poor Drake got a black one. There just isn’t much in the way of orange school supplies/trinkets this year.

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So then our day continued with our traditional late breakfast.  All the stares from people as we walk into a restaurant around 9am on the first day of school. Ha! Everyone wondering what these schoolers are doing out of school. The boys love to tell people that it is our NB2S day because we’re homeschoolers!!!

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We spend the rest of the morning doing whatever we want….playing video games, watching tv, playing outside, doing laundry (well, me anyway). Just killing time until our NB2S party with one of our homeschool groups. I loved that one year when two of our groups planned their NB2S parties on the same day but different times. We spent the whole day with friends!!

Off to grab a bite for lunch before heading to the skating rink!  A local skating rink not only has the rink but also a whole other area with bouncy things, in-floor trampolines, and a place area similar to those McDonalds play areas. Fun for all ages!! I especially loved that I could skate this year since my youngest is now old enough to play on his own with his friends. He doesn’t need his mommy right with him anymore! Kind of a sad happy about that. In this case, happy…I skated for two hours!!! Some moms always “guard” the door to make sure no kids get outside and we all watch over each others kiddos. I declared myself the rink police/emt….”go the other way!” “Are you ok?” “Let me see that boo-boo.” “Watch out for littles!” …..as I went around and around and around. So. Fun.

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As usual, we left the skate party 30 minutes early….using, of course, my secret weapon. Happy Hour at Sonic!!  All of our skate parties end at 4pm.  The Sonic is just a few miles down the road so years ago I told the boys we could stop for happy hour drinks if we left the rink a little early.  We avoid the “I don’t want to leave my friends” breakdowns, the crowds leaving the building, the wait in the parking lot to pull onto the street, and we get a cool drink for half price! Win-win!! We’ve kept that tradition!!

That’s the end of our totally awesome NB2S day!!  Now on to the rest of our week…..

Tuesday was a terrible no good very bad day. I’m just going to be real with you all.  It was baaaad. Like everyone crying on their beds bad…including Mom.  Ugh. We just got off to a bad start and carried the theme all the way to lunch when I decided enough was enough and ended our day.  I laid (re: pouted) on my bed until the hubs came home.  It was a mess but we did have good conversations about it on Wednesday and came to an agreement. According to the “On this day” on facebook, we have a history of bad days after NB2S day so obviously I need to adjust my expectations and maybe ease back into school a little slower.

We had a great day of school on Wednesday. We had fun and accomplished a lot of work. Not a lot to say. Ha! We just worked.  I did re-arrange my “mom” chair area.  I have a wooden crate that holds most of our group work or “morning time basket”.  It holds our history, science, Bible study, current read alouds, etc.  All of the books that don’t fit into the crate (like the Brave Writer binder) go into a little shelving table that sits on the other side of my chair.  Neat, organized, and ready to go.

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Speaking of Bravewriter…we are LOVING The Writer’s Jungle.  I’ve gently added some of the suggestions from the first chapter. So far they’ve happily gone along with the additions. Then Wednesday we played the communication game. They LOVED it. Asked again and again if we could keep playing.

After a morning of schoolwork on Thursday, we ventured off to a local lake for our nature study.  We use Exploring Nature with Children as one of our nature resources and this week was all about pond life.  Our small pond gets quite nasty about this time of year along with many other available ponds in our area so a small lake was the perfect choice for us.  We took a picnic lunch….because food always tastes better outdoors, and I read to them from our nature books while they ate.

We took a little walk down the walking trail, out of the way of all the fishermen who were at the lake.  On our way, we saw a dragonfly lying on its back on the trail.  I thought it was dead and was kind of excited about taking it home.  Gabriel flipped him over with a finger and it flew off.  We went to where it landed….and it crawled right up on Gabriel’s outstretched hand!  It sat on his hand long enough for all five of us to get a good look at it and for pictures.  It must have been so thankful to have Gabriel flip him right side up!

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We found a little path down to the edge of the lake and each one took turns scooping some water from the lake into a mason jar.  We were hoping to catch some tiny lake creatures!

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We did in fact catch some kind of creature. I hoped it was a fairy shrimp but those are pretty rare in our area and it was a little too small anyway.  We brought it home and studied it under a magnifying glass. After a couple of pictures, we released it and added an entry to our nature journals.

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Friday was spent in town. I did have plans to do a little bit of schoolwork in the morning. Unfortunately, I developed a migraine over night so I did not want to look at tiny print on paper. My 8th grader had a student council event at the mall. They had a FUN photo scavenger hunt!  The rest of us did a little grocery shopping, stopped to visit a friend, and then met back up at the mall….in front of The Cookie Co.  Ha! We had a sweet treat and then headed out for the rest of our grocery shopping.  I was miserable after all of that and went straight to bed when we got home. So thankful for kiddos who know how to put away groceries and entertain themselves while Mama rests.

I am SO looking forward to week 5. Many fun things coming up.  I hope to take even more pictures as we get into a groove with our school days.  Our co-op classes start on week 6. Then we’ll have our first break during the week of Labor Day. I can’t believe we are that close to our first week off! I wonder if they’ll want to continue on…and if they do, should we go for it?! Ha!  The hubs is taking a vacation week at the end of October which falls on the end of our next 6 weeks AND the end of Term 1. Wow. I can see how this year is going to fly by with our new schedule!

I hope you all had great weeks as well.  If you blogged your week, please comment below and share the link! I would love to read about your school week!

Happy Not Back To School!

The Plan: 2017-18 School Year

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I think I’m finally settled on a plan for the new school year.  I’ve only been back and forth on so many different things.  Starting something new is exciting and fun…but also a little scary.  I have doubted my choices all summer long.

This will be my 9th year of homeschooling…and we are trying something we’ve never done before: Charlotte Mason’s streams of science, using Sabbath Mood Homeschool’s science curriculum. Since 13-year-old is going into the 8th grade, I would like to see how this works this year before we need to start his transcript. IF it goes well this year, we will carry on through his high school years. More on that later….

Right now, lets talk curriculum for the year. We are about 85% Charlotte Mason this year. I can’t quite let go of a couple of non-CM things just let…or maybe ever.  That’s ok, though.  I think we are going to have a great year regardless, thanks to Miss Mason.

First up…our morning group work:

Bible

  • Apologia’s What on Earth Can I Do? Book 4 of the four book series.
  • Simply Charlotte Mason Scripture Memory System
  • SCM Bible reading suggestions from Modern Times guide

History/Geography

  • SCM Modern Times guide and resources
  • Usborne Encyclopedia of History
  • Usborne Encyclopedia of Geography

Science (Kaleb will move up to his own science this year. This will be for Gabriel and Drake. Joshua is welcome to listen in when interested.)

  • Sabbath Mood Homeschool Science Form II
    • Term 1 Weather
    • Term 2 Astronomy
    • Term 3 Physics
  • Usborne Encyclopedia of Science
  • Nature Study
    • various books on Nature Lore
    • Exploring Nature with Children
    • Backyard Nature

Boyhood/Character building

  • Created to Work
  • The Ultimate Guys’ Body Book (first half)

Foreign Language

  • Cherrydale Press Spanish
  • Instant Immersion Spanish
  • A couple Usborne books

Shakespeare

  • Tales of Shakespeare
  • various Usborne books

Plutarch– I know I want to add this but not sure yet on a resource.

Now for individual studies:

Math

  • Kaleb: Saxon Pre-Algebra
  • Gabriel: Saxon 76
  • Drake: Math Mammoth 4

Language Arts (each at their own level)

  • Painless Grammar and Our Mother Tongue
  • Spelling Power
  • Drake: All About Reading  and Explode the Code (working on his dyslexia)
  • dictation/copywork/ from our literature reading

Science (Kaleb)

  • Sabbath Mood Homeschool science guides Form III
    • Botany (all year)
    • Term 1 Weather
    • Term 2 Astronomy
    • Term 3 Physics
  • Usborne Encyclopedia of Science

And all those enrichment studies aka afternoon occupations: We are using various materials for our enrichment studies and I will share more about the specific resources as we use them throughout the year.

Picture Study- Three artists this year.  I’m excited about the Native American artist! We are close enough to a couple of museums to see his actual work in person!

  • Mary Cassatt
  • Ernest Spybuck
  • Jackson Pollock

Composer Study- Three composers this year but I will admit…I’m not sure who yet.  I want to find three American composers. That is one of my goals for this week.

Hymn Study- We will be memorizing/reciting/singing at least three hymns this year. I have resources for five so we might squeeze in a couple more if we have time.  If not, I’ll be two ahead for the next school year!

  • Amazing Grace
  • Anywhere With Jesus
  • All Creatures
  • Be Thou My Vision
  • O Love

Handicrafts-We won’t follow a curriculum but I found a few fun crafts that I think the boys will enjoy….paper crafting (origami), wood working, and string art.

Poetry Tea Time-we will be memorizing poems from and learning about three poets this year, but we will read from other authors as well.

  • Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • Maya Angelou

I feel like that is everything. Maybe. Ha! I’m super excited for our year.  I think we’ll have a lot of fun and learn SO much. Week one was a blast and it should only get better and better as we get back into a routine.

How in the world are we going to fit all this in? Loop scheduling!! I’ll be back next time to share our daily and weekly schedules.

Happy Not Back to School, homeschoolers!!  Hope you are as excited as we are about the new school year.

 

Sometimes it doesn’t go as planned.

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Hey you!  It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  It’s been a rough one but we’re hopeful that we’ve turned a corner.  Our summer will be better than our spring…and winter. 2017 has been full of illness and bad news.

This has been the sickest winter/spring we’ve ever had.  We have faced pneumonia x 3, a stomach bug x 6 (everyone at home got this!! It was terrible!), a flu-like virus x 5, two kidney stones, and strep x 1. We have seen a doctor for illness more times already this year than in the past seventeen years!! We had THREE ER trips! It’s been insane and a little unbelievable.

Literally nothing has gone as planned. We had to take so much time off from school that we are finishing up this month.  The boys don’t seem to mind though. They have decided that our “new school” is so much easier than our “old school”. We finished co-op at the end of April and that created some much needed free time.

I went with my adult son to urgent care in May.  He was having trouble breathing along with other symptoms.  The doctor said they found a nodule in his right lung. He needs a CT scan to find out if it needs further investigation.  Sometimes those young adult children can feel a little invincible.  He has yet to schedule that CT scan which worries me. He still has all the same symptoms so I’m hopefully that he’ll get tired of feeling so bad and finally make that appointment.

The worst news for the spring is the death of a young teen in our homeschool group.  He was my 12 year old’s friend.  Such a joy to be around.  So caring and thoughtful.  Witty and funny. Smart. He died suddenly from unknown causes. One day he was fine and the next he wasn’t.  Kaleb has had such a hard time this past month.  We last saw him on the last day of co-op.  He was in my survival class.  He and Kaleb joked about how, for one day, they are the same age since their birthdays are only one year and one day apart. They had a great day together and, then four days later, he died. The funeral was amazing, definitely a celebration of his short life. His parents are amazing people.  They spoke of faith and peace that passes understanding.  His mom repeatedly said, “…but I trust you, Lord.” Their faith blew me away. Kaleb is doing a little better each day. He has a great support system of family, friends, and youth leaders.  I’m thankful for them.

Baseball started at the first of April and we’re winding down that season.  One of my boys was chosen for the All-Star team for his age group.  We will have two weekends of tournaments this month.

We were suppose to have our house on the market by the summer but we’re behind on that as well.  We have made some progress on the new house site.  I applied for the 911 address last week.  We’ve mapped out where the house, shop, and animal pens will go.  I’m still in shock that the hubs agreed to chickens, goats, and a cow.  He even added ducks to the animal list!

My June plans:

  • Finish 2016-17 school year
  • Once a Year School Planning for 2017-18
  • Paint all the rooms!!
  • Electric on the new house site
  • Plant a small container garden
  • Purchase two goats and three chickens
  • Monthly game night with the adult children and grands  (done…yay!)
  • Backyard cook out with the adult children and grands

Easy peasy, right? I’m actually already working on the OAYP….printing, printing, printing. I hope to share with you our curriculum line up for next year.  It is so different from our usual line up, and I’m excited for another year of fun school. I have paint for a couple of the rooms in the house. Just no time yet to paint!

I’m looking ahead to July…nice, easy, boring July. Ha! I’m praying for a health and happy summer. More time to blog. More time to read. More time to have fun. That’s my prayer.

Hope you are having an awesome start to the month of June.