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School Basics and Spending Time Together – Homeschool and Life Happenings

This past week was such a FUN whirlwind of activities for our family. Laurianna is wrapping up her semester at the community college (and came to us with a change she is thinking of making for the upcoming year – see below for more on that!), so she is deep in the throes of writing papers and studying for finals next week. 

School wise we are covering the basics for the rest of this month: math and reading for everyone, typing and handwriting for Kaleb, science added for Zachary, and McKenna is filling in what she needs to do based on the various schedules we have for her. Otherwise, we’re doing some fun things together each day: games, cookies, and enjoying ourselves. 

Creative Fun for Mom

Over the weekend a friend and I got together for some wreath-making fun. Last year she and I took a class together on how to make them and decided when we were finished it would be fun to do again the following year – but cheaper now that we (sort of) knew what we were doing. 

So we walked our properties, cut various greens, and used a simple $2 wire wreath and some floral wire to put together our beauties. I LOVE the different greens we incorporated (cypress, pine, boxwood, cedar, and a few other misc greens. I’m not a bow girl, so mine ended up with a few berry clusters for some color and all is well. It smells SO GOOD!! 

First Lego League

While we were creating our wreaths, two of our boys were off competing at the First Lego League States. Fun fact: this competition had 108 teams (over 70 in Division 1, which our boys are in, and over 30 in Division 2). The competition was held over two (long) days and is the largest competition meet in the world (what we were told). 

The boys robot, Billy Bob, performed amazing, and the boys have worked so hard over the last few weeks since their regional meet to shave time off their run by working more seamlessly together and lining up their robot so the runs go as planned. 

Just before their last run, they made a tweak to their program (and didn’t have time to run it to make sure it worked). But is was AMAZING!! If you watch the video to the end and see the faces of Caleb and hear the excitement of my Kaleb – well, they were THRILLED. They ended up with a score of 262 points for their run, the highest by 30 points in both Division 1 and Division 2. While they didn’t advance to Worlds, they did win two awards for their robot: 1st place for robot performance and 1st place in innovative robot design. 

We are SO proud of how the boys have grown this past year in their programming, teamwork, and confidence! 

Encouraging Relationships

Needless to say, the boys were in a Lego state of mind after the weekend competition. Here’s the thing: they haven’t played with them in a very long time. They were all dumped into two big bins and put aside, but Monday morning they hauled them upstairs. We had school to do, but quite honestly – I let it slide a bit. 

Yes, we have things we “need” to do for school, but quite honestly I want to do everything I can to foster the relationships between my kids – especially when they are enjoying each other’s company. :) That’s just a win in my book and there isn’t any way I’m going to tell them they need to focus on ____ subject at the moment. 

Bits of Random

While I realize this is COMPLETELY unrelated to homeschool, I just need to stop for a moment and share the cutest little plant that joined our household this week. Miniature plants are too cute and this one was begging for a home. Do you see the itty bitty sunglasses on the right? It made me smile, so mine it is. 

Wednesday morning we woke up to snow blanketing our yard. My parents, who live only 15 minutes from us, hardly had a dusting and we had several inches when all was said and done. The view driving up and down our road is one of my favorite things to see, especially when the snow has gathered on the tree branches. So peaceful. 

The (Soon) Graduating Senior

The last few weeks Laurianna has been working hard as her semester comes to an end. She has been working on college applications, writing numerous papers for her classes, took her nursing entrance exams, and is now studying for all of her finals. 

A short bit ago she came to us with a different option for next year. The last two years she has been very focused on working toward her nursing degree (her push, not ours), but she is feeling the desire to step back a little bit and possibly take a gap year since she has completed all of her pre-nursing work and already has a good headstart on her RN degree. 

She is looking into spending at least a year working with Mercy Ships, so we are meeting with her advisor next week to talk about how things might play out if she were to head this route. We’ve had some great conversations the last few days about it all – and can’t wait to see how this turns out. 

A Peek at School

Kaleb has been continuing with his typing (he is much more consistent than Zachary – ahem). He really enjoys the games that Typesy offers and seeing his progress (currently his “goal” is set at 90% accuracy and 30 words per minute). 

He is still working through the center row of keys (asdf and jkl), but it’s great seeing him NOT looking at the keyboard for help. His confidence is improving and that something great to see!

This girl – well, she is working hard to wrap up her studies so she can have a nice long Christmas break. She’s had a rough few weeks in some non-school related areas, but it’s great to see her smiling again. We’ve had some great conversations over the last few weeks – some really tough. 

For those of you with teens, I think you will understand when I say there are times that you are so frustrated with your teen and wonder if anything at all is sticking that you have been trying to model and teach them (in non-school related areas) over the years. And then you have these amazing conversations with them. And see them work through things (when you so desperately want to step in and make everything “all better” for them). 

Family Fun

Later in the week we pulled out an ugly Christmas sweater cookie kit (nope – we didn’t bake them) and had some fun decorating. I will spare you all the picture, but what a 14 year old boy thinks is humorous can be oddly hilarious. :) 

Games are the last way we are having some fun this week too. Kaleb received Jumanji as a birthday gift from a friend and it was a fairly quick play for us – definitely one we will play again soon! 

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. 

New Paint and Playing Catch-up – Homeschool and Life Happenings

It’s finally painted!! Well, all but the stairwell, but my hubby knows me and painted the part that I can see the new blue color and will finish the rest later. This painting has been in process for some time, and it’s great to be back in our space and have it be re-organized.

The first few weeks of school were so much easier with everyone being in one area (and not distracted by disappearing to other spots in the house only to not return). When we started the painting there were some areas of patching that needed to happen and everything had to be pulled away from the walls – and then we had to decide on a color. Good grief that can be a pain! We finally settled on Benjamin Moore Mountain Mist – not too gray, but light blue enough that it didn’t seem white. 

If you follow me on Instagram at all, you may have seen the stories I shared with the color difference. I’m hoping to share more via quick stories – it’s a bit out of my comfort zone, and apparently I need help at times from my girls (which they are happy to tease me about). 

So now we’re adjusting to being back in the schoolroom, which is taking a bit. Gotta love it!

Everyone was finally home at the same time Sunday night, so we were able to decorate the tree together. Looking back at all of our ornaments we’ve collected over the years is always so much fun – remembering what we did together as a family and places we’ve visited. (Which reminds me that we forgot to hang up our ornaments from our trip to Europe this summer!)

We’re gearing up for Advent too and I ordered a new book, The 25 Days of Christmas,  to read together as a family. Confession: we don’t always get to things every day, the kids don’t always want to read along with us, BUT there are times that it’s important to go ahead and do it anyway. 

Earlier this week I shared about something that had me crying in Costco – Kaleb reading. While the book choice of the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book may not be on my “recommended reading” list for 6th grade, here’s the thing: he picked the book out himself and HE HAS BEEN READING IT. No, it will never be considered classic literature, but my goal is to have him ENJOY the process and not loathe it so that in the future he will pick up another book and discover that he can read and wants to read.

My view this week as I play catch-up on grading (cough) has looked much like this – both boys working on their independent work. McKenna has been curled up in her room on the floor and I’ll spare her the embarrassment of sharing a picture of her little “nest” she has created. 

This has been my desk much of the week. McKenna has wrapped up her poetry course, so I’m going through her book grading her assignments, catching up on her gradebooks, printing off quizzes for Zachary to take, and finishing up a few other things. But grading can sometimes be the death of me. 

Incidentally, those are owl pellets on my desk. Because we homeschool. And only homeschoolers would share a Facebook status update asking if anyone wanted owl pellets for dissection. :) 

Can we talk for a moment about the boy who needs to constantly have something in his mouth? The schoolroom reorganization uncovered our Chewigem dog tags and Kaleb has had them nearby most of the week. It’s something little, but rather than biting a lego or his shirt, they at least offer some quiet help. 

This week we also switched to a different typing program – Typesy. Kaleb and Zachary are working through the beginner program. This program offers some video tutorials as well, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the boys do with it (I’ll be sharing a review!). 

One thing I’m excited about – having our Periodic Table Wall Chart back up on the wall! Kaleb is working through Christian Kids Explore Chemistry this year and it’s a great tool for him to get a LARGE visual of the table. We haven’t used the interactive part of the poster yet, but he is going to love that! 

Addie has been thrilled that she can curl up with someone again (our bean bag is her favorite place to snuggle even if we aren’t in it!). Zachary has read several of the books on his reading list for this year and honestly was getting a bit bogged down (i.e. reading wasn’t fun), so we let him pick a book to read for himself (he chose the last Harry Potter book). We just picked up the boxed set, so he is curling up to read through that one before he can see the movie. 

Our Senior Adventures…

Laurianna is wrapping up her fall semester at the community college. She has one more week of full classes and then finals, which she is ready to work on and take a break. Over Thanksgiving she started training to teach lifeguard classes, so her “break” wasn’t much of a rest for her. 

We did find out that she has already been accepted to the community college and are now working on her application to another college so she can work on classes in their BSN program while she works on her RN. She is still waiting to hear back from the nursing program on her acceptance there. 

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

A Nursing Exam, A LEGO Competition, and a Field Trip – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Before I even go too far, I will have it noted that a) my almost 12-year-old DOES in fact own more than one shirt (see below) and b) also showers more often than it appears. You’ll have to trust me on both counts, but this boy is one of familiarity and often I have to ask him to please put on a different shirt. :) 

Our week started off technically last Saturday with Kaleb and three of his friends participating in the First Lego League regional tournament. Over the last few weeks the boys have pushed into overdrive and been practicing, running missions, and preparing for this competition. 

It was a long day, but they did amazing and have improved so much from last year in their teamwork, programming, and overall confidence. There were some frustrations when missions didn’t run as planned, especially when they ran with zero issues at home, but overall the boys did fabulous and will be advancing to the state competition next month – so back to preparing!

In some REALLY exciting news, Laurianna passed her Kaplan test this week. The classes she has been taking at the community college were both for dual credit as well as prerequisites required for entering the nursing program. She has been studying the last few weeks and was a little nervous (so were we), but as of now she can directly enter the nursing program at college next fall with no other classes to take! 

Next focus is college applications now we know where she stands with this and have this stress off our brains!

Most of my pictures seem to be of Kaleb this week since the teens are hiding most of the time or don’t wish to have their picture taken. Truthfully Kaleb isn’t always a fan either. :) All of the kids are moving along in their studies, including Teaching Textbooks (which we all love). Kaleb is starting on order of operations right now and Zachary is focusing on -x and the associative property. (I promise, Teaching Textbooks makes this so much easier for us!)

Kaleb and I are working together on his spelling and reviewing a few areas that he seems to have “forgotten” lately. With his journaling, I’m trying to catch any mistakes he makes and focus on those rules for review. 

When we were working together earlier this week, Zachary came into the room and asked if he could finish the lesson with Kaleb (sentence dictation). The two were hilarious, especially when he added in a sentence, word by word, for Kaleb to write: “I am bad at Fortnite.” They were laughing and having fun which is much fun to hear.

Zachary has been playing catch-up a bit in science (again with reading a syllabus – it’s all a learning curve), and he is now in the miniature house building stage of his physical science program. Next up – adding electricity!

In chemistry, Kaleb and I are working through a few labs together in Christian Kids Explore Chemistry. This week we were talking about different types of chemical bonds. The lab focused on combining salt and hot water together until the salt dissolved, straining the mixture through a filter, and then letting a portion dissolve to see what would happen. 

Wednesday we took a last-minute field trip with a friend to pick apples. We are at the very end of the season, but really wanted to grab some apple seconds as well to make applesauce. Unfortunately we have a wait a few more days to start that process since I had to order a new sauce maker because our old one is going a little wacky. 

In addition to journaling, Kaleb has been working on reading comprehension with these reading comprehension guides (currently using grade 5 level) and in grammar we are having a blast with diagramming direct objects and predicate nominatives. Yes – he enjoys it (and so do I). 

In completely unrelated news to anything, I am rather thrilled that it’s Christmas movie season. Call me crazy, but I’m ready for some happy thoughts and good clean tv watching thanks to Hallmark. I may have downloaded their Countdown to Christmas app to mark off the movies that are new this season. :) Mock me if you will, but Christmas movies, as predictable as they may be, are my happy place. 

In Case You Missed It

Earlier this week I shared a new Thanksgiving activity pack with you all (thanks to those of you that emailed to let me know the link wasn’t working! It’s fixed now). If you are looking for a few mazes or games for kids to work on while meal prep is underway, download this free pack! 

I’d also love to know what you all are reading – either personally or as a read-aloud. Our November reading list is up on the blog as well and there is one book I absolutely loved last month! 

Other Links to Note

Don’t miss this giveaway from All About Learning Press for a $100 gift certificate toward ANY of their programs – spelling OR reading!! We have loved their programs over the years and highly recommend them!

 

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. 

Teenage Dress Code, Games, and Baking – Homeschool and Life Happenings

We had some company this week, so our schedule was thrown off a little bit for a few days, and Kaleb has been meeting with his LEGO League group extra this week because of his upcoming competition. Overall though we were back into the normal swing of things – and yes, the above picture is fairly normal in our house, especially for boys of the teenage variety. No shirt is the typical dress code of the day and furniture is apparently not for sitting in, but hanging off of. 

Zachary is working through North Star Geography and doing really well. It’s been a great opportunity for him to understand following a syllabus – well, that and learn a lot about geography. :) 

Again, the dress code follows us throughout the day. Zachary is really loving Algebra 1 from Teaching Textbooks 3.0. I’m really loving the online version this year as well since we don’t have to use the same computer. We’ll be sharing more about the online version (Teaching Textbooks 3.0) very soon, but it has been a fabulous upgrade for our family. 

The last few years one of our friends has put together fun costumes for our boys – and this year was no different. There was a third member of the group as well (a bag of tortilla chips). Really, this was a perfect trio for our boy since he has a ginormous love for eating chips, salsa, and guacamole. :) 

With all the trick-or-treating candy (yep, I’m maybe a bit too cheap to go buy a big bag of M&Ms), we divided out the candy by color and made our Atomic Cookie Skillet models. As we have been learning about the periodic table, this is one of the best hands-on ways to learn about electrons, neutrons, and protons. 

Since we had a plethora of certain colors, we decided to skip some of the lower numbered elements and create a few that allowed us to use more of the candy (and eat it). Kaleb has been looking forward to this part of  Christian Kids Explore Chemistry since we started the book. He remembers Zachary making these several years ago and couldn’t wait. 

They were delicious! 

We spent some time playing games together – the boys are always thrilled to play games even though I am, so we compromise and I let the boys skip their independent reading if they played a game with me. Math’d Potatoes was the first one. Essentially you have to roll dice to come up with a set of dice, using addition or subtraction, that matches the numbers on a card.

Second game up was Spell Trek, really easy for Zachary, but great practice and reminders for Kaleb. The biggest thing – we all had fun together and there was some friendly competition along with a lot of laughter, so it was a big win. 

A little something new we’re trying this week with Kaleb is journaling. I’ve shared in the past that he really struggles with his spelling and reading, so writing/journaling isn’t high on his list of “things to do” every day. As much as he dislikes writing and is uncomfortable with it because of his reading and spelling, we sat down this week and had him set a timer for 5 minutes (or a little more) and write at least 3-4 sentences in that time about anything he wants to, with no worries on spelling or grammar mistakes.

I predict much Fortnite reading in my future. 

This week he wrote about all of his candy haul and costumes adventures. I was rather amazed that he spelled the word guacamole correct and realized that he was asking Siri how to spell things. :) I honestly can’t fault him for his ingenuity on that one. 

Even though it hasn’t been his favorite thing, I’m really hoping that it will get him more comfortable with writing in general and being a bit more creative. 

 

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

 

The One Where We Catch Up and Take a Breather – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Usually we have a six weeks on and one week off schedule for our school time, but because we had a few different trips planned, McKenna’s musical, and what feels like a million other things, we opted to take a full week off during Thanksgiving. 

Let me tell you the kids aren’t as thrilled about that. 

In some ways, it’s been great – we have momentum going in certain areas and can run with it. In other ways, it’s hard. That week off gives me a chance to regroup and make sure we are covering all of our bases and also ensure the kids are on target with their studies. 

It also means we don’t have that REST and mental break that we often need every six to eight weeks. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t keep up on all fronts and Zachary got a little off kilter in some of his subjects thinking we weren’t supposed to be as far along as we are, so this past week (and in the next few weeks) he will have to adjust his schedule to pick up the slack. 

The good thing though – it’s the beauty of homeschooling. We can put something aside if needed and adjust things to tweak what needs to be done. 

Here’s a look at what we’ve been up to this week…

LEGO League

Kaleb and his group are in the final stages of putting their presentation together for their first LEGO League competition at the beginning of November. Their robot has been misbehaving, but fortunately they were able to get the programming figured out and their missions are back on track. 

If you aren’t familiar with LEGO League, the kids are given a theme each year, build specific missions (designed by LEGO), and have to program their robots to “solve” these missions (i.e. shoot off a spaceship, move a satellite, etc…). The kids create attachments to add to their robots and then program the robot to complete those missions. 

It’s really been a lot of fun for Kaleb (he especially likes the programming and problem solving part of it). One of the other aspects is teamwork and a presentation the kids make to a panel of judges. They have to come up with a creative solution to a problem and then share their ideas. 

This is a little out of Kaleb’s comfort zone since it involves public speaking, but it’s great to see the boys work together in this area as well and be pushed out of their comfort zone. It’s also neat because it make the league more than just programming, giving kids other areas to grow and excel. 

Physical Science

One of the areas Zachary dropped a little behind was in his Physical Science class. He misread the syllabus we put together, so this week he had to spend some time catching up in a few areas. He isn’t a fan of writing long answers to questions and after his first test is now understanding the value of responding in more than five words (grins). 

He absolutely LOVES the hands on projects that Exploration Education offers with their science program. This week he completed the light circuit and is now working on building a miniature house that will have wiring (and he plans to make it a little more fun). 

One thing that has been great to see with him this year is his looking toward the future and what he would like to do as a career. He has been talking about different engineering fields and what he might enjoy, but it’s fun to watch the wheels turning in his head as he weighs the various options. 

High School Chemistry

We missed a chemistry lab with our friends, so this week we worked on our upcoming labs as well as some of our past ones. Something we also focused on this week was how to write up labs properly (I have a printable I’ll be sharing soon for high school that we are loving!!). 

Sometimes teaching high school classes can be a bit daunting – I’ll admit it! But I love watching things click for both the kids and myself. This week it was understanding the periodic table more thoroughly (seriously – it was literally like seeing a light bulb go off over the girls’ heads!). 

Community College Classes

This week Laurianna had a few things to tackle as well with her classes. One of her professors is a bit late in grading and she (along with the rest of the class) misunderstood something on the syllabus that resulted in some not-happy grades for them. Nothing major, but definitely something that needed to be addressed going forward. 

It’s hard stepping back and letting your kids take responsibility sometimes, but she contacted her professor so she could better understand what she was missing and could change for the upcoming weeks. While she can’t change some of the things that were already graded, she (and the rest of the class) were given grace in fixing a few problems. 

Also this week we are working on her class load for the spring semester. She has completed all of her prerequisites for the nursing program at our community college (YAY!!) and will now work on a few classes that are required for the RN to BSN program with the university she intends to transfer to after she has her RN completed. 

You all – my eyes are crossing with all the numbers and professors – and trying to figure out an overall schedule and make sure we are getting it all together correctly. Her SAT scores are back (WOOT!) and she’ll be taking her Kaplan for nursing in a week – next step is applying to the nursing program for early admission! 

CAMPING

Every year we take a camping trip in October with some friends. It’s a much needed break for us and we added an extra day (Thursday) onto our trip so we could really just SIT and relax a little bit. Granted we are adding in a swim meet on Saturday since it’s nearby, but otherwise, it will be great to catch up with our friends and do nothing in particular. 

 

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. 

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

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