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Homecoming and a Birthday – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Both of our girls went to local homecoming dances (one public, one private). Initially they weren’t on our radar, so we were in a last minute scramble for dresses. Fortunately we were able to find to affordable dresses thanks to Amazon Prime. (I’ll add that I am so thankful for free return shipping!). 

Can we take a moment and pause. My girls. I know I’m a little partial to them, but they looked stunning. My heart. :) 

Kaleb and Zachary both started using typing.com this week as well. Although we have another program for Kaleb, Zachary also wanted to start working on his (not as proficient) keyboarding skills. Zachary is definitely able to type, but his (and my) goal is to have him be able to work without looking at they keyboard while typing so he can work a little faster. 

We’re moving along in our math time as well with Teaching Textbooks. Zachary is doing really well with his Algebra 1 program (he is working on order of operations among other things), although he sometimes needs a little 1:1 help on a problem. 

One thing I have to say about Teaching Textbooks 3.0 and the company – I so appreciate their willingness to take suggestions for future updates. Zachary asked me to email them the other day and ask them to add a feature, and they responded almost right away to let us know it was something in the works (yay!!). Having a company that listens and works to make their product better is a huge win!

Kaleb was feeling a little under the weather around the middle of the week, so he and I snuggled up on the couch and did the bulk of his schoolwork there. Yeah – he could have had the day off, but he was content to let me read to him and work through his subjects that way. 

We celebrated Zachary’s 14th birthday this week. Each year that kids choose where they want to go on a birthday date with either Rick or myself, so we had a Cracker Barrel lunch. 

Can we talk about how much teenage boys can pack away? Cracker Barrel biscuits are a lovely solution to this problem. :) 

McKenna and I caught up on a few of her labs this week too (we have more scheduled for Friday). Seeing the different colored flames was VERY fun! 

Is it sad to say that one of the highlights from my week was having a local friend stop by with some treats from the Netherlands for me? My cousin introduced me to these two licorice flavored candies when she came to visit about two years ago, and while I brought home a LOT of them after our trip in this past summer, trying to find them anywhere locally is difficult. A pack of Mentos here is about $1, and one store all over the Netherlands, the Kruidvat, has 8 packs for 1.99 euros (about $2.50)!

This friend is an airline attendant, and when she visits her family she has offered to pick us up some of our favorite treats. I know it’s silly, but it’s something that make me smile!

 

That’s about it from this last week! I hope you all are doing well and would love to hear about your homeschool time – feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you’ve been up to. 

Be sure to stop by WeirdUnsocializedHomeschoolers.com and hang out with some other moms who are sharing their day-to-day happenings. 

 

Our Curriculum for 2018-19

Building Models, the SAT, and Getting on Track – Homeschool and Life Happenings

This week was fairly laid back and more of a “get-back-on-track” week for us: reviewing where we SHOULD be at this point in the school year, adjusting our schedules as needed, making sure we have all quizzes/tests completed for the older kids, and looking forward to make sure we have all the things we need for the upcoming few weeks. 

There were a few areas that needed tweaking, but I think overall we are all feeling better (aka – mom is feeling better) and next week will be definitely more focused. 

McKenna and I started off the week seeing the musical “Urinetown” – the one she will be in this coming November. It was great to see it live and get a better feel for how the musical flows. I know the title sounds odd, but it is rather hilarious – a satire if you will on so many things, and McKenna is going to do fabulous as one of the leads (and she is so excited). 

Overall the kids are doing well staying on task, although I keep forgetting some of the little things, like typing, for Kaleb. With the schoolroom all out of whack, it makes it a little harder to not be in a routine up there, so I’m going to have to make some lists to put on his desk with things he needs to check off daily. 

This week we did a little dictionary work to go along with the book he is reading on the Wright Brothers. He isn’t particularly thrilled with this newest book because it is a little tougher to read, but he is doing great with comprehension. 

Most mornings we get a rather short time with Laurianna before she heads off to classes at the community college. She is almost at the halfway point in the semester and doing great so far. She is loving all of her classes (microbiology), but sometimes there are ones you have to take regardless. 

This last week she took the SAT and in the next few weeks she will be studying for her nursing entrance tests (Kaplan) – but no pressure at all!

 

In his chemistry class, Kaleb is learning about atoms right now, so we worked on building an atom model made out of styrofoam balls. 

And you know as luck would have it, I found all the leftover styrofoam balls from Zachary’s model AFTER I’d bought new ones for Kaleb and he had painted them. I can be my own worst enemy sometimes when it comes to re-organizing things. 

The finished model turned out pretty great though! I’m pretty sure he created an atom of lead, but don’t quote me on that, ok? 

Can we stop for a moment and chat about some of the most amazing baking pans I have ever owned? Ones that make me want to slowly buy every single size they have available?

These aluminized steel pans are nothing short of incredible. No non-stick spray. Barely any cleanup. Just fabulous. The cupcakes I made popped right out of the pan, and it’s ready to use again. Seriously. They’ve made me want to bake all the time (which I haven’t decided if that’s a good thing or not yet…). 

The boys and I are having fun playing this new game together as well. We’re still getting the feel for it, but it reminds me a bit of Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride – almost as if they merged, had a baby, and themed it after national parks. It’s a little bit of geography and learning all rolled into a game, and that’s a win-win for me! 

Tomorrow the boys and I will be finishing up some prep work for their upcoming Scout camping trip and some badge prerequisites (yay, me!). They are both hoping to complete two badges over the weekend, so Rick and I are helping them read through the booklets and finish a few steps so they will be able to knock two more off. Fun fact: it will be almost freezing at night when they camp and it was 90 degrees earlier this week. 

That’s about it from this last week! I hope you all are doing well and would love to hear about your homeschool time – feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you’ve been up to. 

Be sure to stop by WeirdUnsocializedHomeschoolers.com and hang out with some other moms who are sharing their day-to-day happenings. 

Sunshine, Legos, and Curriculum that Clicks – Homeschool and Life Happenings

This summer we haven’t had much time for camping or family trips. Well, other than our two and a half week trip to Europe (grins). Once we returned home from those adventures, the days/weeks were full of recovering from our travels, swim team, and the girls’ work schedules. 

That and a whole bunch of rain. And more rain. 

We’d been complaining that we hadn’t camped nearly as much, but then when the sun actually started shining, we realized that almost every weekend would have been a miserable, soppy mess. 

BUT SUNSHINE HAPPENED ALL WEEKEND!!! 

We met another family in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. One of the things Zachary really wanted to see was the point where the Potomac and Shenandoah River meet. Because of all the recent rain and hurricane that came up along the East Coast, the water levels were ridiculous.

Granted, not nearly as high as they’ve been in record years, but everything was still a mess. The Appalachian Trail was closed as well because the water was covering the trail at one point. 

The campground had an early trick-or-treat night (which we didn’t know about), so a quick Walmart run resulted in some silly costumes for the kid (a princess, a pirate, a nerd, and someone from the 80s), along with a younger princess friend. 

As soon as we were back from camping, Kaleb headed to one of his Lego League meetings. The group of boys have built their robot and also created several attachments to complete the various missions, but they are still working on completing the programs for those missions and the timing to earn the highest number of points. 

They’ve worked so hard this year and are building on the knowledge they gained last year, so this is so much fun to see their improvements. Their competition day is in early November, so they still have several weeks to tweak their robot’s maneuvers and put together their presentation. It will be fun to see how they do this year compared to last year!

Zachary typically starts his day with Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1. He is doing really well with the class. I haven’t quite figured out what the fascination is with using the computer downstairs rather than the laptop we have for the boys, but if it gets finished, I really suppose I shouldn’t complain, right? 

Both boys are reading new books now. Zachary is about halfway through of The Witch of Blackbird Pond and Kaleb is reading Wilbur and Orville Wright: Young Fliers. The one Zachary is reading isn’t on his initial reading list, but since he is working through them a little more quickly than we anticipated, we added this one in. Kaleb isn’t as excited about the new book in comparison to reading Boxcar Children (a little more challenging), but it’s finally clicking for him as well. 

With the schoolroom in complete upheaval at the moment, McKenna spends most of her day curled up in her room working on her school. Hilariously she has created a bit of a “nest” and is usually surrounded by her laundry, schoolbooks, and makes everything all cozy. 

One of the best changes we made this year was switching to the History and Geography Lifepacs – it’s been a perfect fit for Kaleb. At the start of each unit, we divide the readings up over a series of days. It’s given him a visual of how much to do each day, and helped him mentally not get overwhelmed with the work for the year. 
The smaller units are a HUGE win for us, rather than having one (seemingly) overwhelming text. Loving it!!! 

Usually we are able to fit our school work into four days, but this week we are going to do a little bit on Friday too to catch up and fill in the things we have either missed or put aside until we had time. We’re also planning on a little fun too (I have a new game which I’m sure will be met by groans, but we’ll see!).  

That’s about it from this last week! I hope you all are doing well and would love to hear about your homeschool time – feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you’ve been up to. 

Be sure to stop by WeirdUnsocializedHomeschoolers.com and hang out with some other moms who are sharing their day-to-day happenings. 

Serving, a Field Trip, a Surgery, and a College Visit – Homeschool and Life Happenings

It’s amazing how there are times when life can seem to fly by and at the same time go ever-so-slow.

The last two weeks have been like that in many ways. We’ve been plugging along with school, but we’ve had a whirlwind of things happening both in and out of the house that made it really hard for me to sit down (both physically and mentally). 

Between getting the day-to-day school done and then juggling some parenting stuff heaped on top of it, it has really been an exhausting two weeks. 

We’ve been dealing with good days of school (everyone happy and working hard) versus days when there have been tears (from child and parent), self-doubts on my part, and moments of crazy fun and laughter together. The roller coaster of it all 

Keeping it real – this is the current state of our school room. McKenna has been working off of my desk since the wall behind hers in being primed. We haven’t even started painting yet because life has just been so full. 

Because of the disarray, it’s meant we’ve been all over the house with our school time (even though we are more focused when we are in one room). 

Zachary has been working on several science labs/projects with Exploration Education. His first one was building a racer (battery powered) to help us measure mph (speed) (measuring the distance traveled and the time it took). 

Something fun in this experiments was seeing the difference a battery makes. Apparently some of the 9 volt batteries in our closet are used/old and the car was moving rather pitifully. We recently purchased new lithium 9v batteries and the speed on the racer was hilarious in comparison! 

The second project Zachary built for physical science was a steam boat. His vessel wasn’t 100% sea-worthy, but it did putter around the tub for a bit without taking on too much water. 

In this experiment, he built a boat using a thin metal sheet, an excessive amount of hot glue (grins), attached a small boiler plate, and then used a small candle to heat the boiler plate that eventually powered the boat in the water. 

Kaleb started his typing program from Keyboarding without Tears finally (I may have forgotten for a bit). It’s definitely a bit more intense for him than the level we used last year (and we’ve had to switch to another laptop since the boys’ laptop is a bit glitchy at times). 

Laurianna has been working hard in her four classes at the community college and survived a microbiology test as well as her first paper for her English class. Something encouraging to me was having her professor comment on her knowledge of MLA (that may be an area we have drilled on over the last few years). 

Later in the week we also visited another university to talk to them about their RN to BSN program and see if their may work with her current studies. Prior to heading into this visit, she was leaning very heavily toward attending another university, but is now reconsidering her options, especially because it would also cut back on expenses and offers some different options. 

Once a month the kids and I help serve at a local church and serve a meal to those in the area who need a hot meal. The kids have become a huge help – but let me tell you something: they don’t always want to do it and attitudes sometimes stink when we head out. 

I get it. I don’t always want to either, but regardless, we go and serve. If there is one thing we really do want to instill in our kids, it’s that it isn’t always about what we want to do, but more about putting the needs of others above ourselves. 

At the end of last week, my dad also had back surgery. Initially his surgery was scheduled for the following week, but he was bumped up last minute so much of my Friday was spent waiting for updates on his seven hour surgery, being with my mom or him at the hospital, and then hanging out after all was done. He is home and has a long recovery period over the next few months, but hopefully this will offer some relief for his back. 

Earlier this week I shared a picture of how life feels at the moment: a bit messy. Kaleb was working on some of his schoolwork at the counter and they are covered with “stuff” – letters that need to be filed, bills that need to be paid, random junk and other things that need to be organized. 

We do school and life still happens in the midst of it. So while he works and I talk him through things, I cleaned up (somewhat). It’s one of the perks and downsides of homeschooling. We’re home which means messes are made while we are living and working, and often those messes seem to multiply. :) 

McKenna is plugging along to in her work. One thing I loved hearing the other day was that McKenna’s favorite subject is Algebra. She wasn’t a fan of geometry (I really can’t say that I blame her), but Algebra is something she loves. (My inner math geek is rather pleased with this.) 

Here’s the honest part about homeschooling our teens: there are days that I get a lot of pushback. Different personalities sometimes result in my hearing things that can really hurt and cut straight to my insecurities as a parent/teacher. And the yuck in that area can be really hard to sort through.  

Mid-week I walked into the schoolroom to find the boys had pulled out our Backseat Drawing Jr. game (aff link). They were supposed to be working on a few other things, and my initial reaction was one of frustration and wanting to get them back on track. 

And then I took a deep breath and instead sat down to play with them. 

Games are something I love and the plan was to include them much more this year in our school time, and quite honestly – we needed some time of fun. McKenna came into the schoolroom after a bit and we all took turns giving directions. 

One person has a picture card and everyone else tries to draw an object based on how the card holder describes it. So much laughing and quite a good way to show the importance of accurate phrasing and step-by-step directions (and following them). Also how people interpret things can be hilarious!

We wrapped up this week with a day-long Shakespeare workshop with Zachary and McKenna while Kaleb had the chance to hang out at a friend’s house and work on his school work and also build some of the missions for this year’s Lego League. We’ve been planning this trip since May and first saw the play As You Like It in the morning and then attended two workshops based on portions of the play: one on character interpretation/movement and another on poetry and learning how Shakespeare uses iambic pentameter throughout his writing (and how each line can be interpreted multiple ways based on inflection). 

That’s the bulk of our last two weeks – minus some parenting drama. I hope you all are doing well and would love to hear about your homeschool time! 

Be sure to stop by WeirdUnsocializedHomeschoolers.com and hang out with some other moms who are sharing their day-to-day happenings. 

A School Picture, No Internet, and Experiments – Homeschool and Life Happenings

It only took us two weeks, but we finally grabbed a “back to school 2018” picture last Friday when everyone was finally home. No editing (because my house looks yellow, it’s white), only two children had to be told to go put on something else because NO THAT IS NOT OK TO WEAR, and one child is completely faking her height by wearing boots with 2-3 inch heels so she can beat out her sister. 

But they are all smiling, so all is well – 6th grade (Kaleb), 8th grade (Zachary), 10th grade (McKenna), and 12th grade (Laurianna), and now I can check that off my list (even if it’s two weeks late. Don’t judge.). 

Not too long after though, I managed to back out of our garage and into our other vehicle when we were on our way to McKenna’s play practice. Not a shining moment. On the other hand, the boys will have fun helping me change out the light casing for the tail light and get that fixed. 

Let’s have a sweet puppy and kitty moment, shall we? 

As for this week, you know that saying about the best laid plans? Yes, well, apparently they have met our internet provider. 

We’ve gotten spoiled the last few months having internet that has a speed of over 1.3MB – we’re much closer to 100MB now after many years of begging and pleading. 

Unfortunately, that does little good when there is a service outage and then a small router goes berserk and the internet is down for two days. Especially when your husband’s phone is apparently in the middle of an update, freezes, and then he spends the next two days trying to access all the stuff. 

I know it’s a first world problem, but it’s crazy how dependent we’ve gotten on our devices, isn’t it? And with so many programs relying on computer access these days, it can put a little kink in plans when they can’t be accessed. 

Instead we relied on my phone’s hotspot and made the best of things (grumble, grumble) until things were fixed on Thursday for us. 

There was lots of reading aloud, independent reading, sticking with our everyday subjects, and then adding in some fun chemistry experiments at the end of the week for McKenna. 

Kaleb finished up the first unit in his AOP Lifepac History and Geography set – woot! 

I mentioned on FB and Instagram that we are using a different chemistry program this year for McKenna and on top of that, we don’t have the same group setting (i.e. I actually have to teach this time around). 

To say I’m a bit nervous is an understatement. I love the math aspect of chemistry and the fun hands-on, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t get frustrated at times with McKenna because we are both really strong personalities – which can cause going toe-to-toe at times. 

So far though I am really liking the layout of this program and we had a blast working on the experiments this week together (we’re doing them with a friend too). 

This week we worked on three different experiments – separating a mixture of salt and parsley, learning about the conservation of mass, and also the law of definite proportions. We’re meeting every two weeks to review the previous chapter and prep for the test and then work ahead on the experiments for the upcoming lessons. That way the girls know what is supposed to happen and understand the experiment/concept when we get to that portion of the chapter. 

Well, other than all the experiments, the literal fender-bender, and our two week late back-to-school photo – that’s our week in a nutshell. 

Hope you all are having an amazing week – talk to you soon! 

Be sure to stop by WeirdUnsocializedHomeschoolers.com and hang out with some other moms who are sharing their day-to-day happenings. 

12th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks (2018-2019)

There definitely aren’t as many textbooks in the pile this fall, but Laurianna is still hard at work on her classes. 

At home Laurianna is finishing up one class (Pre-Calculus) and taking four fall classes at our community college. We haven’t determined how many classes she will be taking in the spring yet and have plans to meet with an advisor at the college she would like to eventually attend to decide what courses would be best for her (and not need to be retaken). 

The current plan, pending Laurianna’s applications to colleges, is for her to work on the RN to BSN program offered through our local community college and then transfer over to the school she would like to complete her degree with. She will be applying to that school as well this fall (if they would like to offer scholarships, we are more than happy to accept), but so far the community college and then transfer is looking like our best option.

By the end of the fall semester, Laurianna will have 29 credits toward her high school diploma and have completed eight of the courses toward her RN program requirements at the community college.

Fall Semester 2018

  • Math: Teaching Textbooks Pre-Calculus 3.0 (finishing)
  • ScienceMicrobiology and lab (community college)
  • English CompositionArguing About Literature 
  • Philosophy/Ethics: Ethical Choices
  • Sociology: Marriages, Families, and Relationships
  • SAT – taking October 2019
  • Kaplan for nursing – taking prior to November

Spring Semester 2019

12th Grade Curriculum Choices

Last year Laurianna started and stopped Teaching Textbooks because we couldn’t install the disks on her Chromebook and the other laptop she uses was literally falling apart. We were able to switch to the 3.0 online version of Pre-Calculus and she is now working on that since it works on her Chromebook wonderfully!  I’m really excited about this switch since I can log into the account at the same time and view the lesson, and we can access from any computer, not just one specific (which we had to do with CD-rom version).  

We were fortunate this semester because one of her books (Microbiology) was included in the cost of her class enrollment, and the other books we were able to rent through either Amazon textbook rental (referral link) or through the community college. We’ve found that Amazon has been by far the cheapest for rentals, but they don’t always have all the books either since the professors sometimes like to choose obscure books. 

Does High School Have You Scared?

If homeschooling high school is worrying you, don’t miss the free middle and high school planning printables and map out your middle and high school years!

Homeschooling in High School Middle and High School Planning How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Here are a few posts that you might find helpful as you discover what is best for your family. Be sure to check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

 

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with Laurianna the past few years:

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

Click one of the images below to see curriculum picks for our other children.