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 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.

2018-19 Week 2: Composer/Artist Study

So I was crazy inspired by this set of videos by Sonya Shafer.  She pretty much broke down the Charlotte Mason education into five succinct points.

A little tangent:

Genius! I wish someone had done this for me back when I started reading about Miss Mason. I was incredibly lost when I visited Ambleside Online. I love and appreciate AO…but I froze when I saw ALL THE THINGS and wondered how in the world I could possible do it all with my boys.  Thankfully, I found other resources that made better sense to me. Oh, to have these videos though. If you’re curious about CM or wondering how to get started…where to start, you should seriously consider watching these five short videos. Don’t even watch them on the same day. Give yourself some time to digest each one individually.  And suddenly…..it won’t seem so intimidating.

Ok, back to my inspiration. Our composer and artist studies were found lacking this past year. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t organized. It wasn’t encouraging or inspiring or really anything but a burden for me. I kind of gave up on both. Then I watched the video on adding five things to your weekly schedule. BOOM! It made perfect sense to me. Super easy. Don’t overthink it. And here we are.

This trimester’s composer is going to be Scott Joplin. I chose him for a few reasons. For one, he fits the time frame we are currently in (American history) while waiting for our ancient history materials to arrive. I think the boys will enjoy his music. They weren’t super impressed with last year’s selections. And I was inspired by my daugher-in-law’s American Literature high class. She’s making a great effort to share more than just the typical “dead white guys” with her class. I love it. I also want the boys to have a broader experience with American history and music. Plus when we do start the ancients, there won’t be a list of composers for us so we’ll just stick with modern composers for most of the year.

Same with our artist study. We are going to start the year with Jackson Pollock because who can pass up splatter paint art?! Seriously. I think this will be a much better introduction into art than some of my previous choices. We will have fun with it for sure.

We also added back a poetry study this year. We are going to stick with one of last year’s poets since we didn’t get far….Edgar Allen Poe. We watched a fun little video of The Raven as well as a short bio on video before listening to another video of Christopher Lee read the whole poem aloud. One of my boys immediately came up with a few lines of his own for a Minecraft parody of the poem. I can’t wait to share his completed work!

We used YouTube videos for much of our learning in these three areas. I’ll link a few of the videos we loved below.

Jackson Pollock:

Scott Joplin:

Edgar Allen Poe:

On to our weekly report….

You know when we’re getting back into our school routine? When I don’t have many pictures to share because we were just on a roll! Ha! I didn’t take many but we did have a fun field trip at a local pizza place on Thursday. The kiddos were able to make their own pizza…and while those baked, we had a little pizza dough fun. Then, of course, the kids ate their creations.

Other than that, it was business as usual.  Our busy season is starting up again…a lot of baseball and soccer and co-op classes. Summer has officially ended for us!

2018-19 School Year: Our First Week

As usual, my first week report is before my curriculum post. Ha! Why change things up at this point right? It’s almost like my own annual tradition. Also….we’ll see how long the blogging about school lasts this year.  I think I barely even started last year before I stopped. I’ll get back into the habit one of these years, right?!

So week one:

First of all, something new for our school year….I’m watching my little grand toddlers every day for the months of August and September. And I’m also watching my little grand baby 1-3 days a week. Just call my house Mimi’s Grandcare. Ha! The boys and I love having them, and we actually managed to have a pretty decent week while adjusting to the changes. There are challenges but we’re a pretty patient lot and it helps that they are so stinkin’ cute!! We will definitely miss having them around when this time comes to an end.

Another challenge….I decided to outsource our printing needs this year.  Our summer was full of all the things so I was quickly running out of time to do my once a year planning/printing. I ordered all of our PDFs to be printed back in the middle of July. We should have received it by early August but here we are….working toward the end of August and nothing has been printed yet. Sigh. Trying to show patience. That’s a good chunk of our schoolwork. Patience. Patience. Patience. If I repeat it over and over, will it help? Or only further annoy me?!

The highlights of our week…

Monday:

You know when the Bob Schultz book you’re reading to your kids….so they will become good upstanding adults…ends up convicting you instead of them? The book clearly says it’s for boys but there I was……totally convicted. So we spent the morning after our group work deep cleaning our bedrooms and bathrooms. Ha! Thanks, Bob. But keep in mind that your job is to teach my boys….not me. For real, man. Then math, reading, copywork, etc.  All the things that the boys did NOT miss over the summer. We’re sticking with American history until our ancient history shows up.  Digging a little deeper into WWI and WWII. Kaleb, the history buff, is in heaven. I feel like I’m crying every day. If you need a good resource for American history though, check out America: The Story of Us. So good! We watch on Prime.

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Tuesday:

So how do you get restless boys to settle down and work? Homeschool PE. YES! A little running, some jumping jacks, sit ups, push ups, and of course planks. Burn that extra energy! And I learned that if the baby of the family works harder and does better than his older brothers, those olders work harder themselves to show they are stronger/faster/better. Homeschool PE = some healthy, brotherly competition = extra burn. I like it. One of our new daily habits!

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Wednesday:

Finally the mom of this house got it together long enough to give the boys some fun NB2S gifts.  Of course she didn’t have it together enough beforehand to actually finish anything….so Dad saved the day! After a day of schoolwork, we all jumped into the truck and headed to a fun amateur hunting film fest.  First, Dad bought us dinner at a fave restaurant. Then we made our way to the event.  We watched several hunting videos (I’m not a fan usually but they were well done and fun to watch.) and caught some cool prizes. The boys each came home with either a hat or shirt and a dvd. We got home around midnight so I let the boys sleep in just a bit the next day.

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Thursday:

The homeschool mom is tired, ya’ll. It’s been a long week. A great week. But long. And I didn’t have the luxury of sleeping in like some people in my house. This one cup of coffee girl had two cups. Ha! We managed most of our schoolwork but not much else beyond that. The grands LOVE playing outside so the boys spent a lot of time in the yard with them.

Friday:

Happy FriYAY!!! We did it! Our first week of the school year is DONE!! We’ll get a little but of school work done and then…..it’s time to celebrate those birthday twins!!! Technically, their birthday is tomorrow but someone convinced me it was today, even though I knew I was right. Ha! So we did some fun things with them. It’s not everyday a grand is in your house on (or around) their birthday, right?! We definitely took advantage.

Hear that big ole happy sigh?! As much as I miss our summer break, it’s good to be back into our school routine. Settling my mind. Calming my heart. I love the spontaneity of summer, but oh that school routine….like a soothing balm to my soul. And the things we will learn this year. I can’t wait. So many books waiting to be read. So many adventures waiting to be taken. So many memories waiting to be made. My happy place.

Happy Not Back to School, my homeschool friends! Here’s to an AH-mazing year!!

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!

Week 1: The one with zero pictures

So week one. Success! But yeah…no pictures.  We were just trying to get stuff done. Ha!

We started off slowly with about a half schedule, finding a groove with our morning work. I’ll admit, I’m still a little unsure about dictation, recitation, etc.  I need to get a better grip on it before Monday. Also need to redo my afternoon loop schedule since I forgot to add typing and Spanish….I didn’t even realize until Wednesday. I did keep thinking that I was forgetting something so there’s that.

We rocked at history, science, math, and Drake’s phonics!  We’re actually finishing up last year’s history.  We’ll start our brand new exciting history next week!!  I can’t wait!

The boys LOVE their new science program from Sabbath Mood Homeschool.  Kaleb is especially excited about it.  He enjoyed tracking the weather this week, although he did say he was hoping one day would be different that “clear skies and super hot”.

I can see we need to work a little bit on our habit of attention with math.  We were doing so well in the spring! Too much time off. I know we’ll get back to it soon, though.  We covered some multiplication, scientific notation, and a LOT of graphs.

We finished up My Side of the Mountain….finally.  We just haven’t been reading together that much this summer.  Back to school routine means more read aloud time. I’ve missed it.  We also are still reading Little Pilgrim’s Progress. We are about half way through that book.  We will add On the Far Side of the Mountain and some living history books next week.

I finished the week with the monthly mom’s meeting of our local Charlotte Mason group.  We are going to work our though Charlotte Mason’s book one Home Education.  We discussed Out of Doors this month.  I love her description of a “typical” afternoon of nature study.  I can’t wait to implement many of her ideas into our nature study.

Boy quotes on week one:

  • “I really liked the weather science.” Kaleb
  • “I just like My Side of the Mountain.” Gabriel
  • “I kind of like my reading program.” Drake
  • “I don’t like school. Is it over yet?” Joshua

I am incredibly pleased with our first week.  It feels great to be getting back into a routine. Our days felt productive and peaceful.  I hope the following days, weeks, and months continue in the same manner.

I promise pictures next week!  We have some fun activities coming up and the boys will be starting their handicrafts soon. So many good things! See you next time!