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Homeschool and Life Happenings – The One with More Doctors

While I know summer is here in my mind, at the moment it doesn’t feel too relaxing around the house. We’ve been keeping busy for sure with swim team. The kids have practices almost daily and Rick and I have been helping out a lot. 

We started out the week with a visit for Laurianna to see another specialist, this time a pediatric cardiologist. At this point we are taking appointments in any order we can get them since many specialists have crazy long waiting lists. We’re waiting on seeing an Ehlers Danlos specialist in a few months, but the good news at this appointment was that what she has not is not vascular related. On the other hand they did find another anomaly, but one they only need to keep an eye on at this point and not one that will cause any significant problems. 

Meanwhile we are being referred to another specialist. And the visits continue. If anything, we are determined to hit our individual and family deductible this year. 

We had our first swim meet this week and it went with only a few hiccups. Only three of our kids were there and they all did great. :) I know it seems silly, but the above picture is one that makes me a little giddy. Because inevitably at a swim meet we are missing SOMETHING: goggles, caps, sharpies, etc… so I put together a mini emergency kit to keep in our bag and pull out. Already (first meet) we needed a cap, bandaids, and Sharpies. It’s the little things that keep me going and I’m not afraid to admit it. 

On Wednesday, Laurianna had all of her wisdom teeth removed. She was very nervous about it, but it went very well overall. Granted, she was rather out of it the remainder of the day, but her best friend came over bringing lots of cold popsicles and other yummies for her, along with with a stack of movies, and we stayed up late watching crazy movies together.

She’s doing much better, although a little swollen, and ready to be back to normal. Sadly (I think) she was just groggy – not crazy hilarious like some of the kids you see coming out of surgery. The only funny thing she kept doing was poking her chin because it felt funny being numb and she couldn’t tell the difference between her lip and the gauze. 

Zachary left on Sunday for a full week of Boy Scout Camp, working hard on earning quite a few badges. He recently was promoted to First Class and is wants to get his Eagle Scout as soon as he can.

That said, the house has been rather quiet because he and another sibling haven’t been at odds during the week (shhh…I didn’t just admit that our kids fight, ok?). Ironically, the other child typically involved in the constant back-and-forth admitted to missing fighting with him. Lord help me. Come Friday we are going to have one exhausted 12 year old boy. 

Rick also headed out of town this week to a conference of sorts focused all on sound tech geeky stuff. There’s likely a better term for it, but I’m thrilled he gets to spend some time with a group of guys who appreciate all the geek-stuff and just relax without the kids. :) 

And me – well, I’m determined to get a night out too. Two friends and I are planning to head out to dinner tomorrow night and then go see a movie together before I have to pick up Zachary from Scout Camp (I may or may not be staying in town so I don’t forget he is coming home!!). 

That’s it for our week – what have YOU been up to? 


8th Grade Year in Review – Homeschool Curriculum Choices

8th grade homeschool year in review - Homeschool Creations

The first few weeks of the school year I’ll be honest – they were rough. McKenna has done well the last two years working at her own pace and getting work done, but the first couple weeks were tough. While I had suggestions on how she could best manage her time/subjects, she was way overthinking some of the things and putting herself through much more work than she needed to. Once she settled into a good groove though, she was flying! 

Her favorite subjects overall were science and literature. Both were ones we did together with friends (I have a sneaky suspicion that is one of the main reasons). McKenna is very outgoing and loves to be interacting with others. One of the highlights of her year was attending Teach Them Diligently in Atlanta with some friends of ours – and being able to hang out all weekend with a group of kids. 

This year she has learned to play the ukulele, started working as a sports photographers assistant (earning money is always nice), and also learning how to play the piano (she is practicing herself and wants to be on the youth worship team this upcoming year). 

You can see all of our 8th grade curriculum choices in this post here, but below is a quick peek and then a brief look at how the different subjects/programs worked for her. 

The 8th Grade Year Plan

Credits earned: 5.5

Although McKenna is in the 8th grade, we opted to let her try earning a few high school credits over the course of the year – and she did great! Getting into a good groove was hard the first little bit, but once she figured out a routine that worked for her, she stuck with that and owned it. 


This one definitely one of McKenna’s favorite classes. Her literature load involved reading one book per month (you can see her literature list here). While some of the books may not have been on her “must read” pile, she kept up (and ahead). 

Each of the units involved writing three papers, some a bit shorter than others: an author profile, an approach paper, and then an essay, typically around 500+ words. Although she balked at the longer papers first, hers ended up much beyond that word limit. Overall her writing capabilities have exceeded what I even imagined (such a great surprise!!). I definitely credit WriteShop in prepping her the last few years for these assignments. 

And – being able to take a field trip during our Shakespeare unit was so much fun!! Incidentally, this book is a FABULOUS resource for teaching Shakespeare to kids.

Earned: 1 credit.

She also finished level 6 of All About Spelling. 


For eight months we met with a small group of other students to work on the lab part of physical science (once a week). While McKenna worked on the reading and other work during the week, building the hands-on projects, they would get together to review the projects and test their theories (we used this same program with Laurianna and loved it).  Earned: 1 credit.

McKenna also worked through two smaller science books from Masterbooks: Archaeology and Fossils Earned: 1/2 credit combined


So, no pictures to share from this subject, but overall McKenna loved Visual Latin and will continue with the second level next year. One of the things she mentioned is how it has helped her in various subjects (science). 


Maps aren’t necessarily McKenna’s favorite thing, but this girl is nothing but thorough while studying North Star Geography. She definitely loved the hands-on aspect for each of the units, including a salt dough map of our state and so many other great projects. 


Math is definitely not McKenna’s favorite class. At all. It isn’t the program we are using, Teaching Textbooks, and definitely appreciates it, she just isn’t a fan of Algebra. Period. Next year she will be moving on to Geometry. 


Swimming is one of McKenna’s favorite things and she grew so much this year in this area. Their team had new coaches this year, which pushed her in ways she didn’t always like, but she discovered new strokes to love and pursue and figured out that hard work definitely pay off. We are definitely considering the long term swimming in the fall again and she is currently swimming in a summer league. 


Other Year-end Reviews

Take a peek at our year end review for 4th grade.
Take a peek at our year end review for 6th grade.
I’ll be sharing our 10th grade soon, so be sure to check back – as well as our plans for the upcoming year!  

Homeschool and Life Happenings – The One Where We Ate Crickets

Testing is done. Sealed in an envelope and mailed back. Hallelujah and amen. The above pretty well sums up my feelings on that one. 

This last week has been fairly laid back. With Memorial Day weekend, we finally managed to visit a campground we had booked last fall but had to cancel/reschedule. We spent four days camping, relaxing, and looking for shark’s teeth at Westmoreland State Park – love that place! 

And we found a ton of shark’s teeth! McKenna found over 20 of them – the girl has a definite eye for catching them when sifting through the pebbles on the beach! Two of the kids made necklaces out of one of their finds and are loving those. 

Me on the other hand. I take pictures of rocks on the shore and then when the kids look at my pictures later, well, they point out the shark’s tooth in the picture that I didn’t pick up. Way to go me. (If you look closely, there is a RATHER LARGE ONE almost dead center, but up just a little bit to the left, between the big black rock and the black rock in the middle.)

The kids were also thrilled because this spring we finally invested in a few kayaks for the family and this was the first chance we had to try them out. The water was a bit choppy and one of the kayakers swamped the boat right after getting in the water (we won’t mention any names), but the kids had a blast otherwise. 

After our lovely day, we ended up taking everyone out for ice cream nearby and while there we made a last minute purchase. 

Sour cream and onion flavored crickets. For real

Everyone took turns eating one. It was a lovely ummmm….experience. Let’s just say I got a HUGE one and was picking legs out of my mouth for a bit after. (shudder) We’ll chalk it up to a family bonding moment and one the kids will have a blast remembering in years to come. If you are really bored, you can watch the above video as proof we did it. :) 

Did I mention we have baby birds? Every few days we have to water the fern they have decided to nest in (yet again), and it’s sweet to see how big they are getting.

As far as school goes, the girls are still wrapping up a few things, but otherwise our pool also opened for the summer so Laurianna has started lifeguarding again and summer swim team practices have started. While the kids just have to show up to practice, Rick and I have been busy getting everything set up since we help manage our local swim team (it’s fun and crazy, but mostly fun). 

I may be excited too about the pool opening. Once regular swim hours settle in, it will mean a lot of poolside relaxing and reading, and I’m all about taking some time off to relax and enjoy the beautiful weather! 

Other than that, I’ve got tons of paperwork out and I’m working on figuring out a plan for the upcoming year – curriculum and whatnot to pull together for everyone. One year is done and it’s time to get everything lined up for next year. 

How are YOU doing? 

Homeschool and Life Happenings – May 2017

Well, the nutshell is we are on the tail end of everything here. The past week has been a mix of wrapping up testing for each of the kids, finishing a few subjects together with the boys, and letting the girls work through the remaining lessons they have in a few areas. 

Overall, it’s been fairly light the last two weeks for sure. 


Life at Home

We’re headed out on our first camping trip of the year this weekend, so in the middle of everything it’s been craziness trying to get meals planned, everyone packed, and make sure we don’t forget something key. Last time we went to this campground we had one child forget every single piece of clothing. Good times. 

Rick and I have been rather busy too getting things ready for our local swim team to start up. That’s meant a lot of hours behind the scenes for me and trying to organize things so the year goes smoothly. I may also be making lots of notes so next year will be even easier. :) 

One fun thing we were able to do recently was travel to Atlanta with just McKenna for the last Teach Them Diligently conference. Rick wanted to tag along on this one too, but it was so much fun because Carisa and her husband also brought their oldest – and he and McKenna had a blast together. For Rick and I, it was also some much needed time 1:1 with McKenna only. 

Our family is back to volunteering with a local soup kitchen – we usually do it once a month, but had to skip the month of April. The above picture is a rather hilarious look at an incident that happened this past time. We serve lasagna and I have to unwrap the containers (the Costco premade lasagna is fabulous). At one point I kept searching for the knife I was using to cut through the plastic covering and couldn’t find it. About an hour later I heard, “What in the world is this?” and we discovered where the knife had disappeared to. Oops. On the bright side, nothing started on fire – so there’s that. 

The kids are thrilled about one recent purchase my husband made. I stress the last part on WHO MADE THE PURCHASE, because well – noise level, people. There was a great deal on a drum set and the last two weeks have been rather, well, interesting. The boys are having a blast with them. Unfortunately for me, the one place in the house where they can stay at the moment is directly under our bedroom. I sent the above picture to my hubby on the first day when I found his work headphones. And now for lessons…

Part of our month has also seen quite a bit of travel already. We headed to Tennessee to celebrate the wedding of one of our friend’s sons. What does a hamburger have to do with that? Well, we found this AMAZING restaurant while there – burgers that were ridiculously huge (and enough to fill up a growing 12 year old boy). Crazy good. The wedding was amazing too (grins), but the burger lives on in the heart of a certain son. 

Everyone in the house is itching for summer to start officially. Granted, the girls need to complete their work before we are “officially” done, but here’s a look at what each kiddo still has on their plate: 

Kaleb: finish reading 2nd Boxcar Children book

Zachary: finish reading last assigned literature book

McKenna: finish two North Star Geography lessons, about 8 more lessons in Algebra 1, and a few Visual Latin lessons

Laurianna: finish last 4 weeks of Constitutional LiteracyVisual Latin lessons, and a few more projects from Artistic Pursuits Book 1. Her biggest hurdle has been catching up with the things she had to put aside when she was really sick mid-school year. 

Laurianna is probably most frustrated out of everyone because she begins her summer job of lifeguarding soon and feels the pressure of getting things completed, but also wanting free time to enjoy things. That can be a catch 22, eh? We are also sitting down with our local community college in the next few weeks to talk about her taking a few classes in the upcoming year that will be dual credit – YIKES! That means getting her transcript pulled together completely and making sure we have everything lined up. Part of me doesn’t want to acknowledge that we are at this point already, but on the other hand I’m so excited as she starts another phase of her academics.

While the kids may be wrapping up their schoolwork, that means I get to start officially planning for next year – but beside the pool! The pool opens next week and for us that means we will likely start heading there on the gorgeous days – because SUMMER!!

Are you ready for a summer break – or working through? 

Homeschool and Life Happenings

It’s hard to believe that in a few short weeks our homeschool year will be done!! The pictures I have from the last month are fairly scattered, but I’ll try to give you the quick run-down on what’s been happening with each of the kids. We have testing coming up in a few weeks, and one by one the kids are wrapping up subjects (some a little more quickly than others). 

And while I did consider doing a vlog for some other stuff, a) it’s too noisy in the house and b) sitting down for more than five minutes has been hard the last few days because there are a ton of things going on right now. My mom is scheduled for her next hip replacement Wednesday (tomorrow), so I’ve been trying to get things lined up here (rather unsuccessfully to my aspirations) before I have to spend at least two nights with her at the hospital. Add in the rest of life and some other things happening (swim team restarting soon, etc…) and I feel like I’m being pulled in a million different directions. Feel free to remind me that I did say “yes” to these things, so I heaped it on myself, ok? 


That said, here’s a peek at life in our house the past month. 


4th Grade (Kaleb)

Kaleb has been working hard on his math and is eight lessons shy of finishing up his Teaching Textbooks Level 5 for the year. The multiplication worksheet that I put together for him has been a definite help and I’m working on a division one as well to keep those numbers lined up. That said, decimals may be the death of me. (grins) On the bright side, once he fully grasps the concept, this will be the last time it needs to explained. So there’s that.

Two weeks ago something rather fun showed up on our doorstep, which the boys were completely thrilled to help me open and expand it. I haven’t shared a lot about this yet (but you all – I will be soon)! The kids were fascinated by the memory foam aspect of this convertible beanbag from Cordaroys. They are especially excited since it means we will have a queen size bed for sleepovers with friends! See the picture below for what it’s like in beanbag form (and if you are interested in a coupon code, let me know). 

The very best news of the month though??? Kaleb finished up the first book in The Boxcar Children series. Can I tell you how much rejoicing there was in the house – and how proud Kaleb was to have read it?

After he finished reading The Boxcar Children book, I pulled out the other books from his 4th grade reading list for him to look over. Admittedly, it was one of the harder books on his reading list for the year, and I assumed he would pull out one of the easier ones to finish up in the next few weeks. Instead, he asked if we could find the next book in the series and read that one. Inside I may have been jumping up and down. For him to make the choice on his own, rather than my telling him what he was going to read, made reading that much better and easier if you will. His attitude toward reading changes when he has “control” over it, and his reading improves. And that I love. 

In other subject areas, Kaleb has finished his grammar and science, and we are getting close to finishing history as well. Math should be wrapped up in the next two weeks and we are continuing reading, writing, geography, and spelling until the end. 

6th Grade (Zachary)

Zachary has been working overtime in a few subject areas, especially writing and math. He isn’t super crazy about writing things out by hand and we have had some software issues (we finally broke down and subscribed to Microsoft online). With all of the laptops that have broken the last two years, they haven’t been de-registered from our previous software programs – and oy. Now Zachary has no excuse in the typing department (wink). 

Math is one of those areas that Zachary has gotten a little bit behind in. To make up, he has been working on two lessons a day to stay on top of it. We had to go back through some of his past lessons together and have him re-work through them with me. While he isn’t thrilled at the doubling-up, much of that is due to his wandering (literally). He gets 2/3 of the way through a lesson and gets distracted. And I haven’t been doing a great job following up on his completion, because he “said” he did math, but left out the fact he hadn’t finished it. So, we’ve been working through those to get it all done. :)

With the weather warming up, we’ve had some fabulous days for sitting outside and learning from the lawn or porch swing. Whenever possible, our history and read-aloud time has contained sunshine in some form. 

That said, he took one of his writing assignments from Writers in Residence and went crazy (in a good way) on it. Rather than keeping it simple, he turned an autobiography assignment into a fourteen page paper. We are still working on editing the assignment, but I didn’t want him to fly through the assignment to complete another one if he was taking this one so seriously. (sidenote: it’s hilarious – and good, so win-win)

Outside of school, Zachary has been participating in Boy Scouts and wrapping up requirements to reach First Class (should be soon). He is loving the camping – even in the rain – hiking, and all the other fun stuff that goes along. 

Zachary has wrapped up his Rainbow Science and both Who is God?  and Who Am I? so far. He is reading the last book on his 6th grade reading list and history will be completed soon as well. 

8th Grade (McKenna)

McKenna is *this* close to finishing up her Literature class and Algebra 1. She should be able to wrap up the remainder of her classes by the third week of May. 

We are fortunate to have an incredible Shakespeare theatre not too far from us. Each month they offer student matinees and a “talkback time” with the actors after the show is over and we love to take advantage of their acting and knowledge. The theatre we visit is a recreation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre and the actors and actresses are fabulous. 

Our high school co-op group laughed and followed the bulk of the performance we saw, but at times the dialogue moved so quickly some parts were lost on the kids. Still, it brought a deeper level of respect and understanding of Shakespeare to the kids. One more paper to write and she is done!!

10th Grade (Laurianna)

This is one of the only pictures I have of Laurianna recently (her 16th birthday), but she too has been working hard in her studies. There will be some subjects that will carry over into June (Constitutional LiteracyVisual LatinArt, and DriversEd.  

Her co-op classes will be ending mid-May, so history and literature will be finished then. She only has about ten lessons remaining in math (woot!) and then the extra free time she has will be poured into focusing on her remaining classes. Although it hasn’t been the optimal year for her health-wise, she has worked hard when she can and is determined to finish strong. 

In Other News…

April the giraffe finally had her baby!! We were getting ready to head out the door for an Easter event at our church when I happened to turn on the live feed and saw that labor was happening. We watched as much as we could before we left and the kids had the live stream on all the way to church. We had to pause the feed during the egg hunt (we were helping with face painting, etc…), but we saw everything once we returned home. And then it was too much fun watching that little baby giraffe walk around. 

Speaking of the Easter event – this is what 3+ hours of making cotton candy can do to a person. And this is after I spent time wiping off my face. This pictured doesn’t honestly do it justice, but I was rather sweet until we were able to get home and clean up. Sticky, sticky, sticky.

That’s about it for the last few weeks – how are YOU all doing? Close to finishing up the end of your year?  

A few links for you: 


Homeschool and Life Happenings March 2017 (take 2)

(photo credit: my lovely daughter, McKenna)

Hi everyone!! Life feels like it is picking up speed the last few weeks. The weather has been warming up again (yay!!), and we are trying to spend more time outside to enjoy every bit of it! Trees are blossoming – it’s been lovely, especially after our early March snow storm.

And we are still waiting for April (the giraffe) to have her baby. Whenever we can, we peek in on the YouTube feed to see if anything is happening, and the kids ask every morning what the update is. I will say we have been learning a lot about giraffes and having so much fun with the live feed (I may have it streaming on my phone while writing this – it’s true). 


So many of you have been enjoying the video clip sum-ups of our weeks, so here is a peek into the last three weeks or so of life. Feed readers can click here to see the video.  The lighting is crazy and I’m hiding in my bathroom again (so there’s that), but somehow the whole actual talking thing makes me also feel like it’s more of a conversation between us (albeit one-sided). 


Here’s the quick sum-up (and more below): 

  • I’ve been traveling. Last week I was in Arkansas and this week in Nashville, TN speaking at Teach Them Diligently. I absolutely love this part of the year because I get to connect with other homeschool moms and really share my heart, pray with others, and be encouraged through the process. This past week I was also able to meet with some friends I haven’t seen in over twenty years (since the early 90s). The two babies above? Those are the kids of two kids (now grown men) I babysat many years ago. It was SO wonderful to spend a few hours with them and meet their wives and catch up! 
  • School goes on when I’m not home. The girls have been working through their work independently. Zachary and Kaleb require more 1:1 attention, so I’ve left detailed lists with what they need to work on and my mom has been going through their work with them. 
  • The kids have been playing this game almost every single morning. 
  • Next week we have a week off (our six week on/one week off schedule). I’m looking forward to a lot of cuddle time with the kids and enjoying not needing to be anywhere. 
  • Laurianna has still been having off days health-wise. She had a 3 week spell where she was feeling great, but then last week had three really rough days again. Since our last break, she has scaled back on her workload and is tackling the core subjects and fitting in a few lessons of others when she can, but essentially trying to keep herself feeling well. We finally had an appointment with an auto-immune specialist and based on bloodwork, he does not believe her Bartonella is causing all the issues. So – we’re back to square one and waiting on another doctor for advanced genetic testing because she is showing all the markers for a connective tissue disorder. The good news is – we can lighten up on dietary restrictions at this point, which makes it much easier on both her and myself! 
  • Kaleb is reading an honest to goodness chapter book. We pulled out The Boxcar Children and he is now at chapter seven and reading to my mom and others – WOOT!!!!

My biggest challenge is staying on top of Zachary and making sure he is completing all of his work. Sometimes his memory is a little different than actuality. :) There is a fine line between stretching independence and work being done. 

The kids have been having a blast with our new Sphero SPRK+. We’ll be using it more in the next weeks, but it’s charging and taken a few trial runs around the house. We have an older Sphero, so the kids have been comparing speed and details between the two.

There has been much clicking and twisting going on in the house. My brain may be on sensory overload from the Rubiks Cube. But they are loving it and having fun, so there’s that right? And I especially can’t complain when they have saved up their own money to buy them!


That’s about it for us – how are YOU all doing? 


A few links for you: