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Hello Friends – Life in the Moment

This weekend I’m in Nashville, TN, spending some time with one of my favorite people – Carisa from 1+1+1=1. We’re both speaking at Teach Them Diligently Nashville and the downtime has been much needed.

It’s times like this weekend that remind me so much of the WHY I’ve been blogging and sharing over the years. Making connections with other homeschool families. The opportunity to encourage parents as they are starting out. Laughing, crying, and sharing honestly from my heart. This weekend I have met some incredible families and just loved the time we spent at the convention (and soaking up the beauty of the Gaylord!).

The kids meanwhile – well, I suppose there’s quite a bit to share on that front too (you know, since I last shared in October!).

11th Grade (McKenna)

One of the things McKenna has jumped onto with both feet is snowboarding – and she has fallen in LOVE with it. We are fortunate to have slopes close by (the mountain resort is essentially in our backyard). While the snow hasn’t been optimal this season, she has spent as much time as she can learning how to handle herself and tackle the various slopes, no matter how difficult.

On the school front, McKenna is working through all of her classes when she isn’t working locally. We haven’t been able to sit down and dissect her shark yet – that’s coming up (and truthfully I’m EXCITED to work on it!).

9th Grade (Zachary)

Many of our days are spent cozying up on the couch together as we go through various subjects (Geometry is his love/hate subject at the moment).

There are quite a few times where he stretches out and takes a nap (Kaleb too), because the early morning swim practices are catching up to all of us. 4:45am is a lovely dark o’clock hour and I feel for them. :)

Our co-op classes have been going along smoothly too – next week we start dissections with a worm, something we’re looking forward to.

We’ve also been able to continue volunteering at a local soup kitchen (of sorts) once a month and I love that the boys are helping take more ownership of the meal prep alongside us.

7th Grade (Kaleb)

Kaleb prefers to do as much of his work independently, and as I’ve mentioned before, he isn’t the hugest fan of writing in any form. We’ve added in a simple map/geography workbook for him so that he has a better handle on using an atlas.

Both boys recently aged up in swimming, so they have been working hard to make cuts for some of the larger meets coming up. The next several weekends mean a lot of competition time for them, but it’s so much fun to see all their hard work paying off.

The Graduate (Laurianna)

Our oldest, Laurianna, is still in Africa with Mercy Ships. The above tree was HUGE. She is absolutely loving her time onboard and has extended her service time until the end of June 2020. And then she will be HOME!!!

Once she returns, she will be jumping back into school in August at both our community college and another local university.

If you are interested in reading what she has been learning, I would so encourage you to visit her blog, Deeply Rooted.

That’s the super-quick wrap-up of our lives at the moment. How are you all doing so far this year?

Homeschool Wrap Up – October 2019

This month has flown by! Overall the year feels different in so many ways – one kiddo overseas, another one spending more time out of the house with her job and the freedom of her own car, and so many swim practices for the boys. 

There’s a part of me that realizes I’ve been silent on social media (and the blog – who am I kidding), but finding our new groove this year and trying to focus on getting things done (there’s a balance there) has been the primary goal. And really truly, that’s a good thing. :)

Typically each year we take a break every six weeks, but at this point we are nine weeks in and going strong. Some days go more smoothly than others. Some days not so much. 

The 7th Grader

Taking pictures of Kaleb involves a lot of sneakiness. He is working quite hard this year on doing as much as he can independently. We work together on spelling and some of his reading, but otherwise he comes to me when he has worked through his primary subjects and we wrap-up the rest of his stuff together and review his answers.

We’re working through All About Spelling 3, doing 1 or 2 lessons a week, depending on our time. Kaleb has definitely gained more confidence in his writing/spelling this year. He still isn’t the world’s biggest fan of it overall, but he is trying, which is a huge jump from years past.

One thing we are trying with our reluctant reader is a book bingo this year. Because Kaleb is not a fan of reading at all (or writing), we are trying to encourage him to read some different books, branch out a bit, and we have some small incentives for him as he completes a book or row on the bingo card. He does have to complete a short summary on the book as well

If we wrap up a school day early, I try to throw in a fun educational game. I’m a huge lover of games, but the kids aren’t as much into them. Sequence is one of my personal favorites, and there are so many variations on the game  – Sequence Numbers has been the game this month. 

Kaleb and his Lego League group are prepping for their first competition in just a few short weeks. Last year their team went to the state competition, so they are hoping to do well again this year. They’ve added a new team member and switched up their robot, so it’s going to be fun to see how it goes this time around.

The 9th Grader

Zachary has been working hard the last several weeks to wrap up several of his subjects, specifically Algebra 1 and World Geography. Algebra is about a week away from wrapping up (woohoo!!) and geography was wrapped up this week (YAY!!!!). Although there are days that Zachary’s motivation can be lacking, it has been really encouraging to have him dig in and work hard to finish something up.

Most of our days involve working around our puppy friend. She’s a legitimate mess, but loves being the center of attention. All day every day. Sigh.

We celebrated Zachary’s 15th birthday this month too!! I have to secretly admit that it’s a bit of a relief to tell people that he is 15 – especially since he is pushing 6’4″. I know it sounds funny, but it seems that he has finally aged into his growth. :) 

Another first for our boy this month was a local homecoming with a group of his friends. It was so much fun hanging out with the other moms, snapping a million pictures, and just watching them enjoying their time together. 

I will say that finding pants to fit this boy – OY!! Amazon for the win!!

Some days (ok, quite a few) involve a teenager who likes to be in ANY position other than one that is conducive to working on the subject at hand. Please tell me we aren’t alone in this. :)

BUT – there are other days that go super smoothly. And wonderfully. And that’s a lovely thing. :)

What We’re Using

If you’d like a peek at our curriculum choices (because we did switch some things up this year), feel free to click on any of the below links. 

Homeschool Wrap Up September 2019

As much as I truly want to share weekly updates, life has a way recently of flying by. My time on Instagram and Facebook has been limited. BUT our time with school has definitely been in high gear. 

We started our school year the first week of September. It’s the latest we have ever started, but after a crazy busy summer, two kids working, swim team, and still feeling behind from the rush of Laurianna’s graduation and then joining Mercy Ships – well, I personally needed to breathe a little. 

(Maybe you’ve noticed I’ve been a bit quiet here overall lately?)

I’m hoping to share a bit more on the whole “catching up” that I’ve been trying to do with life as we settle into a new year and adjust to a different season. 

But – how are YOU all doing this year so far? 

Despite my best intentions, we didn’t get a first day of school picture of the kids. So McKenna was more than happy to jump in and help out with that. She was even nice enough to include Laurianna – all the way in Africa. 

All that said – we have jumped back into school and managed to get into a fairly good groove overall. Most school days start rather early (M/W the boys are up at 4:45a and T/Th at 5:15a) for the boys’ swim practices. The boys have been doing really well with the early mornings (some days are a little harder than others). 

7th Grade Learning

Even though we have a school room, the boys often like to spend time working in the living room, especially since we have a new couch and can spread out a little more now. Kaleb is really enjoying the switches we made this year with his curriculum. It’s allowed him a bit more independence and he is working hard to do as much without my help. 

This is a HUGE step for him, especially with his reading. He is currently 7th grade and although he is still behind grade-level, he has been making some great strides – which has definitely been encouraging to both him and us, and helped tremendously with his confidence. 

Grammar and math are two of Kaleb’s “pocket” areas. Grammar is one subject he has always done well in. In years past, he has worked through the daily lessons alongside me, but this year it is another one that he has taken over independently (and is doing great). 

Kaleb has also been working slowly through Word Up Vocabulary – short video clips and then some online Quizlet work with the new words. 

Another area we’ve really been hitting hard is spelling. While there are days it seems we are going so slowly, we are really trying to make sure Kaleb really has it down firmly. This year has been a lot easier going (some things have “clicked” a little more for him as well as his willingness to jump in full force).

There are moments when I can sit and breathe as the boys work. Sometimes that means I can grab a little bit of reading time, but more often it’s catching up and trying to stay ahead (currently reading Homeschool Bravely, amongst other things). 

9th Grade Learning

Most of our days are spent with our puppy VERY close by. Sometimes more of a hinderance than a help. :) 

Zachary started North Star Geography  last year and we initially planned to work on it over the course of two full years. After he started back up with the program this year, he decided to wrap it up sooner, so he will hopefully be finished with that class at the end of October. 

Last year Zachary started Algebra 1 with Teaching Textbooks. While he did get a good chunk of the program completed, I will admit to not being on top of all of his work, especially once our year went a bit haywire at the end. We initially planned to work on the program over the summer – but that just didn’t happen. 

Admitting my shortcomings to you all – plain and simple. 

Now Zachary has had to step it up to finish the Algebra 1 lessons and then jump into Geometry as soon as he completes it – hopefully end of October as well!

A new-to-us class this year, Grammar for Writers, has been going really well also. This should be a one semester class (1/2 credit) for Zachary, so he has a little wiggle room with lessons if he needs to focus on another area. The video lessons have been engaging so far and Zachary and I work through the lesson quizzes together. 

One of the things I am so glad that we decided to do again this year is a small co-op for both biology and Personal Finance. Biology has been so much fun already – and quite honestly it’s been interesting to see how much Zachary really remembers (and how easily he can memorize – because let’s face it, sometimes I wonder about the teenage brain). When it’s something he ENJOYS, he is all in.

And personal finance, he absolutely LOVES. We were recently out with friends and the bulk of the time he spent explaining compound interest to all of the kids. It was rather hilarious to listen to, but again – when he loves it, he is ALL IN!

11th Grade Learning

The bulk of McKenna’s work has been independent, and she checks in with me with papers she has written, etc… but overall she is falling into her own routine for the new year. She started a new job and works two afternoons a week, and her fall drama/musical class started at the beginning of October. 

The Kid in Africa

Laurianna is adjusting to life on the Africa Mercy and doing really well. Since flying to Guinea, Africa at the end of May, she has since sailed to the Canary Islands (while the ship was in dry dock and getting prepped for Senegal) and then on to Senegal.

She has already decided to extend her time with Mercy Ships. Her initial return would have been in March, but at this point she has pushed the date into May. We’re still waiting on a specific date, but thankful she is settling in. :) 

You can follow along with her trip via her blog here: https://deeplyrooted.blog/

One thing we are thankful for is the opportunity to Facetime with her. The ship has wifi, and we sometimes have a spotty connection, but it’s good to be able to SEE her, even though she is so far away. 

It’s rather strange adjusting to life with one less kiddo in the house – and being a parent of one that is technically an adult – and learning how to parent from a different place in life. But it’s also a good adjustment too. :) 

What We’re Using

If you’d like a peek at our curriculum choices (because we did switch some things up this year), feel free to click on any of the below links. 

 

 

 

7th Grade Homeschool Curriculum

This year we’ve changed up (yet again) a few areas of study with our youngest, even though we’ve used different programs with our older kids at this stage. 

If there’s ANYTHING I’ve learned in the last 13 years of homeschooling, it’s that the best plan is to follow where your child is and not try to fit them into something they aren’t. While there may be things they never enjoy doing, sometimes it means switching things up a bit so it’s at least a little more manageable. 

Kaleb 100% dislikes most anything related to writing and/or extensive conversation. Unless it involves a favorite video game or he is with his best friend, much of his life has been overshadowed by rather talkative older siblings. He is emerging from his shell some and branching out a bit in some areas as he gains confidence, but many of his subjects this year, even though seemingly below “grade” level, are targeted so he can do as much INDEPENDENTLY as possible: reading, answering questions, etc. 

The primary goal is focusing on his reading, writing, and spelling skills – but sneaking it all in via the other subject areas. He is a boy who appreciates a good (and concise) layout of a workbook, so we’re taking advantage of that. That said, here’s a peek at what we’re using this year with our youngest.

7th Grade Curriculum Choices

 

STEM and Swim

I’m hoping to add in a few additional “fun” activities for Kaleb this year as we go along. Right now we’re trying to get into a good groove with the new subjects/format and also balance the boys’ swim schedule. Currently Kaleb has the opportunity to practice 2 early mornings a week and six additional afternoon/evenings – so a whole lot of pool time!

This year we will continue with our small Lego League group. Last year the boys took first at the regional competition and went to States where they were awarded first place in robot performance and second for robot design. They are working on some major robot redesigns and have started on the challenges in preparation for the regional meet in November! 

Overall, it’s a full year with all the extras, including Boy Scouts, and there are literally very few days/evenings free so we enjoy the down time when we have it!

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 Kaleb the past few years:

 

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! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

Homeschool Teaching Styles and Philosphies.png Identifying Children's Learning Styles copy How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

 

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

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

9th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks

11th Grade Homeschool Curriculum

Fall Read-Alouds for Middle School Boys

This fall our read-alouds are focused more on the boys and their interests (or things they will hopefully be interested in). While our girls were avid readers, our boys have more of a “meh” attitude when it comes to reading, so one of my goals in reading out loud with them daily is making it FUN and enjoyable. 

We have four books in our pile for our fall reading: 

We are currently reading The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt – and it is HILARIOUS. If you have middle schoolers (boys or girls), they will love this book told from the perspective of a 7th grade boy. And beyond that, you as the reader will love it too (I’ve laughed out loud and even teared up at a few points). 

The boys may have had to remind me IT’S NOT REAL, MOM! (For real.)

Anyway, here are a few thoughts on our choices for the fall read alouds. 

Read Aloud Tips

Maybe your family is having a hard time settling down for a read aloud time? If so, maybe one of these Six Read-Aloud Tips will help your family out {especially little ones}.

Books We’ve Previously Read Together

Here are a few other books that we’ve read together and blogged about. Click over to see our thoughts on them!

Audiobooks for Families to enjoy

 

Our Adventure to the Netherlands Begins – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Last weekend was a flurry of last minute errand-running and making sure we had everything together for our upcoming trip. I’m so very thankful that we had some time on Monday morning to relax, recheck our packing, and clean up the house a little before we left. 

Our dog, Addie, was all over the place (especially our luggage) and in the middle of everything while we were getting ready. We have a friend staying at our house with her while we are gone, and apparently she is rather out of sorts and not very happy at the moment.

We brought lots of fun gifts to share with my cousin. She and her family are hosting us for the entire time we are staying in the Netherlands. So plenty in our suitcases on the way there! Two of ous weighed in just shy of the 50 pound limit. 

The big “discussion” on the way over was who would get to sit at the window seat, mainly because the girls wanted to take pictures out the window. The boys said they could care less, so Laurianna and McKenna switched off. 

Just as we were getting in line for takeoff on the runway, storms started rolling in. The line of clouds was crazy and within just ten minutes we could barely see out the window of the plane. Our plane ended up taking off about two hours later than expected. 

We found out later that the above is a shelf cloud – and there were some severe storms and a tornado warning in our area. This is where I will say I am thankful for the wonderful on-board entertainment KLM offers (we were on one of their newer planes) and the distraction that provided in the delay. 

Meanwhile, the rest of the trip – the boys slept ZERO minutes, so they arrived rather exhausted and konked out about 15 minutes into the two-hour car ride from Amsterdam. :) 

The first few days we spent relaxing with the kids riding bikes into town for ice cream. On Thursday we got together with one of my uncles and some of his family for lunch and then to visit a few places nearby. 

Our first stop was to visit a wooden clog (klompen) maker, Klompenmakerij ten Hagen in Winterswijk. His family has been making wooden shoes for four generations. (He told us he has three sons, so another generation can continue. :) 

We were able to watch the process from their start as a round of wood to the unfinished shoe. At this point they have to dry for several weeks. The shoes were made of either willow or poplar and damp when you touch them. 

A fun fact we learned: each klompen maker has their own pattern they add to their shoes. This is the pattern you will find on their shoes. The kids had fun trying on pairs but decided not to buy any for themselves. 

We later took a walk through a swamp area near the German border, not a common part of the Netherlands, but it was a nice walk to see some of the nature and different plants in their area. 

In a few areas there were border markers between the Netherlands and Germany, so Zachary took a quick trip to Germany while we stayed in the Netherlands. :) 

This next week we will be heading to France and Belgium with my cousin for a few days, and all the kids are looking forward to the trip. 

I hope you all are having an amazing week as well and would love to hear what you have 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. 


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