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Tweaking Our Days – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Even though we are quite a bit into the school year, we are still adjusting and tweaking our days to find just the right rhythm. Part of it has been our evenings have been very full with swim team, worship team, babysitting, and it makes our evenings feel like a whirl. 

Normally, I like to have our house straightened up before we go to bed, but lately I’ve felt t.i.r.e.d. So I wake up in the morning and the kitchen is a disaster, which makes me feel even more behind. It also didn’t help that the weather cooled down quite a bit here…which may have put me in a baking mood – so hello, to more of a mess. 

With later evenings for swim, the kids have also been sleeping in later, making it a bit harder to motivate them to get moving every morning. :) Meanwhile my challenge is finding that right “loop” of subjects to work through each day before the boys begin their independent work. 

Part of this has been tied to the fact that the kids are spreading out around the house to do their work. As we start the morning, Kaleb likes to bring a pile of work to the kitchen…and then the living room…and we spend time running up and down the stairs to grab books…and kids get distracted. So back to the schoolroom we go, where certain boys also cannot get distracted by food (ahem).  

To get the days started, the kids will often watch CNN 10 for the morning news and after is where we are still trying to find that sweet spot for our routine. This was something we added in this year, but they LOVE it – as in, insist we watch it and remind me when we don’t. It’s really been a great addition to the year and spurned some good discussions as well. 

Laurianna has been working hard to balance her time between her classes at the community college, work, and her additional subjects at home. At times they are a bit of a challenge, but she truly has been working hard to stay on top of everything and still earn money. 

Kaleb isn’t quite old enough to start Boy Scouts, but he has been attending meetings with Zachary and working on requirements for badges alongside Zachary so he can get a head start when he is old enough in a little over a month. 

This month, Zachary’s troop is working on their cooking badge together. Instead of attending camp this next summer, they decided to work on ten badges over the course of the year, one each month they meet. Zachary has put together a meal plan and each day is cooking himself a meal – one morning it was Eggs Benedict and toast for Kaleb and himself (and they said it was good!). 

Kaleb also has been working hard on his math (Zachary too – but oy with the fractions and percentages!!). I cannot say enough how much I love having Teaching Textbooks as a part of our curriculum. 

In biology we are back to working through labs together with one of McKenna’s friends. This week’s lab we looked at cheek cells from one of us (we won’t talk about how many scrapings we had to take in order to get it to work). 

A little bit of iodine was added to the slide so we could better see the skin cells. We also looked at an amoeba and a paramecium and managed to get a little blood from one of the siblings to look at as well. :) 

But these too – it is definitely much more fun to have a friend to work through our biology studies together. These two are hilarious – between botching the pronunciation of words, getting distracted by a crazy cat, or deciding who will try to poke their finger to draw blood. 

Kaleb and I had put science aside for a few weeks while we concentrated more on reading and a few other things, but this week we were talking about vascular and non-vascular plants in Nancy Larson Science 4

After our lesson Kaleb took a hike in the woods around our house (along with my camera) to find five specimens of non-vascular plants. 



That’s all for this week – how has your week been? 

The Week My 12 Year Old Passed Me in Height – Homeschool and Life Happenings

We’ve been noticing for quite a bit that Zachary is stretching out, but oh.my.word. Our boy – who is currently 12 – passed me in height this week and is quickly gaining on his dad (and no, that’s not a 9, it’s a 6). Almost 5′ 10″ and eating his weight to go along with it, but THREE inches in just a little over six months. Normally I’m one to have him start wearing pants as the weather gets cooler, but it appears it may be more beneficial to have him stay in them (and look a little more appropriate as well). 

Lego League

This fall we decided to have Kaleb participate in a small Lego League with three other friends. We were fortunate to get a grant from a local company (because yikes those robots are expensive!), and the boys have been meeting once or twice a week to get ready for their competition in November. 

Together the four boys are building, testing, and programming their robot and learning how we find, transport, use, or dispose of water.  So far the four are enjoying the class and working on their oral presentation (that may not be Kaleb’s favorite part), but the building and programming is very fun! It has renewed an interest in Legos for both Kaleb and Zachary, even though Zachary isn’t participating, which I love to see. 

STEM in Co-op

Kaleb and another group of boys are also working on various science and STEM related projects every other week. Sometimes it’s as simple as understanding how our senses play into things that we eat or drink. This week we disguised several different drinks (lemonade, apple juice, and tomato juice) and changed their appearance with colors. The boys had to plug their noses and had to sip and see if they could figure out what was in their cup. Tomato juice wasn’t a favorite no matter how they tried it. 

The boys are also working through some of the Instant Challenges that I’ve done before with other classes. This week they tried the Marble Track Instant Challenge. I love seeing how each time we do the challenge, the kids come up with different ideas despite having the exact same materials. 

And cooking is another fun part of the STEM class at times too! (Because what boy doesn’t like a little bit of creativity that tastes good??) The boys made molten chocolate cakes – with yummy chocolate oozing from the center. 

Yeah – they weren’t excited or anything… :) 

Forensics Class

One of the co-op classes Zachary is a part of this year is a Forensics class. There are four kids in his middle school group and so far they are learning about the importance of observation, checking facts, and how our senses can often help us as we search for clues. 

This week they did a cotton ball sniff test and had to guess what each of the cotton balls were soaked in. Here’s a peek at the books we are using to go along with the class (in case you are interested): 

Meanwhile, McKenna is moving along with all of her subjects and we had another great co-op week with the one friend that is taking biology with her. Laurianna is truly loving her classes at the community college and doing well too (she scored a 102 on her last anatomy test). Her health overall has been doing much better, although she did have one off day this week again, unfortunately on a in-class day at college. 

That’s all for this week – how has your week been? 

An MRI and Apple Picking – Homeschool and Life Happenings

This week was nothing short of full (aren’t they all?). We started out apple picking with some friends so we could peel what seems like 5,000 apples. In reality it was only a bushel and a half, so we ended up with about 90 cups of applesauce to split between us and a lot of apples for eating and baking. 

Monday morning, bright and early, Laurianna had an MRI. We are still waiting on the results, but at this point, what are a few more days? :) The MRI threw her off the rest of the day (headache and just feeling weird). 

Tea has been in hand most of this week for me. While I absolutely love coffee, I somehow managed to lose my favorite decaf blend (caffeine is something I try to avoid because of my migraines). There was one point on Tuesday morning where I had to find a quiet spot to be alone for a few minutes. While I do love homeschooling, there are moments when a kiddo and I have moments where we need to take a bit to calm down. For me, a cup of tea gives me a chance to relax and head back to keep working on the day. 

Kaleb and I finished up the first book in the Zoey and Sassafras series and started the second one together. He and I are taking turns reading to each other. I’ve been trying to lay low the first few weeks of school and ease him back into reading, and this has been a great series to read through together. On Tuesday, we picked our All About Reading back up as well and holding off on that a bit was a great decision. 

One morning while we were sitting at our breakfast table working on a few subjects, a little chickadee flew into the window next to us and ended up being a little dazed. The kids and I rushed outside to make sure it was ok and had the chance to hold it for a bit until it could fly again. 

Zachary is one that is a little hard to get on camera these days.  Call it your typical pre-teen phase, but every now and then I am able to catch him – doing schoolwork that is. :) 

Kaleb also started working on Printing Power Plus.  While we are using a level that is a little below his grade level, it’s actually a great fit because handwriting is such a struggle for him. 

One of the things that has been a little incentive for the kids during the week is using my Snapchat filters. It may be silly, but it definitely keeps the boys moving (and laughing) during the day. And truly, that’s a great thing

That’s it for this week. :)  What have you been up to?  

The Visit to the Neurologist – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Last Friday I headed out of town for a few days to meet up with my friend Jodi, whom I haven’t seen in several years. It was a fabulously fun weekend with her (she one of the ladies that introduced me to essential oils many years ago). Catching up with her was so wonderful, especially when it feels like you have just picked up where you left off and you can be yourself above all. She’s one of those ladies I can share the good and ugly with – and that is such a gift.

This school week seems to have flown by – likely due to having decided we would take Monday off and enjoy the last beautiful day of summer at the pool. For the kids that meant hanging out with friends. For me, that meant finally sitting down and reading a bit. The pool hasn’t been the most relaxing place for me the last few months  because I have a running list of things “to do” from being on both the swim team board and the pool board (I did it to myself). But Monday I just sat down and relaxed. It was lovely. 

Kaleb is really enjoying the Soaring with Spelling program and I love that he can work on quite a bit independently. He still defaults to asking for help (even when he doesn’t need it), but it’s a different approach for him and also incorporates in some vocabulary instead of spelling rules, which is good for him. 

Laurianna is loving her Human Anatomy class at the community college. And you all, I have to say – I am so thankful that this girl feels free to text me without worrying about me flipping out. She and I really do have a great relationship, and the pictures I get right now – Lord, help me. 

If you are in ANY way familiar with biology and human anatomy, you may recognize the above microscope image she sent me for what it is – sp*rm. And yes. I didn’t spell the word because spam comments will abound. :) She did get her first bio exam results back and she is doing great (her written wasn’t as high as she wanted, but she got an 86 on the written and a 92 on her lab). She loves her teacher and that makes me happy more than anything because she is learning and loving it overall – and already can’t wait for next semester. 

In other news, the boys and I are listening to The Land of Stories via audiobook. We haven’t had a great week for read-alouds yet (even though we want to), so for now this is covering that gap. 

Wednesday meant a whole lot of car riding for Laurianna and me. Rather than wait until December to see a closer neurologist, we opted to see one a few hours away and get in much sooner. Out of all the visits this year, this felt like a few things were clicking into place. We are waiting on an MRI order to rule out a few specific things, but otherwise did receive some helpful suggestions from the doctor for moving forward.

Laurianna has been doing much better the last bit (a rough day or two here and there, but nothing like last fall), so we are very happy for those great days! She is picking back up with worship team this fall and also beginning to work for a few different people (babysitting and making soap). 

McKenna and I are spending time each week with another family and working on biology labs. I ordered a set of slides for the girls to use (and Kaleb too since this goes hand-in-hand with what he is studying). Above is a peek at a paramecium magnified 400x – it’s really so fascinating!). 

One thing we will say – schoolwork is so much more fun if you have someone to do it with. And really, that’s true about most things in life, isn’t it? It’s always nicer when you are walking along with someone else. 

Our first official “lab” of the year involves carrot pieces, distilled water, and two variables – sugar and salt. Our control was plain distilled water with a carrot slice and the other two slices were in sugar water or salt water. We formed our hypothesis and are waiting on the final results. :)

That’s it for this week. :)  What have you been up to?  

Almost Full Homeschool – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Hi everyone! I hope you have had a fabulous week!! School this week has been going well. We had a few hiccups along the way as I had to spend some time with my grandmother (another hospital visit) and the kids had to do some independent work while I was gone. Other than that, we added in almost all of our subjects this week and are starting to get into more of a daily routine. 

We are trying to start the morning off with the news, so lately that has meant the boys piling on my bed (with the dog always in the middle of things). When McKenna is around, she wants to watch too and this has really been a great addition to our mornings. The kids are talking about more things worldwide and really interested to know what is happening each day. This week the focus has obviously been the flooding in Texas and it is heartbreaking to see the devastation. 

One of the hardest things this week (admittedly) has been convincing one of the boys to USE PAPER when working on math problems. He enjoys doing problems in his head, but when it comes to adding/subtracting five digit numbers when carrying or borrowing is necessary, it can become a little frustrating because he gets an answer wrong (doing it in his head sometimes has a few drawbacks). Math is definitely his thing, but even I get turned around at times doing it without paper. He is also our perfectionist boy, so it drives him nuts to get one wrong, but I’ve had to dig in and tell him unless I can see his math on paper, I will not help adjust the answer (because he does at times type the number in wrong). 

Anywho…let me divide a few things up by child to keep my brain intact…

McKenna – 9th Grade

McKenna has added all but art to her week. We are now in our third week of school and she is finally starting to get into a groove with her work. There may be a little prodding (on my part) in the mornings to get her ready, because she likes to meander. While I know we homeschool, it gets a little hard in the afternoons when we need to head places and she has managed to get herself distracted or gotten a late start. Again, we’ll get into a solid grove before too long, but each school year start is always an adjustment. 

Our literature and finance coop are going well now too. We have a new student with us this year, but she is going to be so much fun. And Addie, our dog, always has to be in the middle of things. :) 


Rick has also been trying to work with McKenna (and the other kids) recording music. They all love to play various instruments (McKenna plays the ukulele and also the piano) and has a beautiful voice. It’s been fun playing around with the software program.

Kaleb – 5th Grade 

Before I go any further, you may notice that Kaleb is wearing the same shirt in every single picture, even though they were taken on different days this week. If you have a suggestion in getting a 10 year old to change shirts daily, please let me know. He loves certain things and will wear the same outfit all.the.time. His brother on the other hand wears either no shirt or several different outfits a day. Sigh.

Grammar is one subject Kaleb loves and this week we also added in his Soaring with Spelling where he is working on compound words. We are still using All About Spelling (and love that), but this is more for handwriting practice and exposure of a different king. He enjoys the format of Growing with Grammar and since this is similar and he can do it on his own, it’s been a good fit. 

In science we are learning about plant and animal cells as well as microscopes in our Nancy Larson Science 4 program. I put together a cut/paste Parts of a Microscope page for him as well as some trivia questions to see what he is learning (I’ll be sharing those next week with you all!). 

The microscope has been a big ol’ fascination for sure! This week we looked at a blood cell and a few other fun things (next week we are going to look at different things from around the house such as creek water and other nature walk finds). He wants more slides, so we are looking at some sets on Amazon to use in the upcoming weeks. 

Reading together started this week as well. Kaleb and I are buddy reading the book Zoey and Sassafras by Asia Citro. It’s a fun science-related book and great for us to ease into the year. We have two other books in the series and are really enjoying it so far!

Another thing that we are starting this week are some exercises based on the Brain Based Movements workshop I purchased through Build Your Bundle sale. After going through some of the cognitive therapy exercises (and seeing how many of the symptoms of some of these tie-in with his reading progress and other areas). The exercises are ones we work on for 1 minute a day for six weeks, so we are going to track his progress on this and really hope it will help a few things “click” for him. 

Zachary – 7th Grade

Seventh grade is a bit of a wake up call for this boy. :) We are working hard at his being consistent in writing down what he is doing in his Student Planner. His work load has significantly increased and part of the issue is he wants to be done in an hour and sees what his younger brother is doing and feels what he has to do is unfair. (You know, the typical thing). Can I just say, a 12 year old boy can be exhausting at times? I love the boy dearly but he can push every single one of my buttons in under 15 seconds. 

We started his WriteShop 1 this week and it is honestly going MUCH better than I had hoped. He wasn’t necessarily thrilled at the start, but he has jumped in and is already putting great effort into his writing, which is encouraging. 

Laurianna – 11th Grade

Classes are going well at the community college and this week Laurianna had her first paper and tests (biology). We’re anxious to see how she did on both of those, but she is really enjoying those classes. Her summer job will be ending this weekend, so she is putting in an application at an indoor pool for lifeguard and also picked up a weekly babysitting job on Friday evenings to earn gas and insurance money! (She is nothing if not dedicated!)

That’s it for this week. :)  What have you been up to?  

The One with the Solar Eclipse – Homeschool and Life Happenings

The big excitement of the week – the solar eclipse!! While we weren’t in the direct path of the full eclipse, it was still pretty amazing to watch. We didn’t find the last of the glasses we needed until Saturday (phew), but the kids kept coming up periodically to check it out. 

We had a few friends over to check it out with us and tried to take some pictures, but they were 100% unsuccessful. 

The day after Laurianna returned home from the beach, we took a trip to look at a used car with her. Ever since she took Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance she has been carefully setting aside money for her own car – and she drove home in it that day! We were able to get tags for her this week and Tuesday she drove herself to the community college to start her first two concurrent enrollment classes (essentially dual enrollment, but since we aren’t public school, we can’t call it that). 

I have to say that this day brought a mixture of emotions for me. First, my heart is busting for this girl. She is so excited (and also nervous). I’m proud, but on the other hand realizing how close this brings us to her going to college! She’s growing up and it’s put me on an emotional roller coaster the last few days for sure. 

One thing we decided to add in to our morning with whatever kiddos happen to be home that day – a ten minute news summary. We’re using CNN 10 for this. It has a bit of current events, some “fun” pieces too, and definitely provides some added conversation with the boys.

When I mentioned this on Facebook a few people asked about concern for media bias. One thing that I’ll say is this – personally I try to read from several different news sources to see opposing points of view. Yes, we are typically more conservative in our views, but that doesn’t mean I need to block it all out (sorry if I’m stepping on any toes). Watching this together has given us a great chance to talk about the stories and any other “sides” there might be to a story – and I love that we have that opportunity to let our kids think and dig a little deeper. 

In other news, this is the typical view with our pup pretty much every day. :) The kids are definitely enjoying our Cordaroys bean bag, but it cracks us up that Addie makes herself comfy whenever we aren’t in it (and even when we are!). 

We added in a few more subjects this week with the boys & McKenna: history and science. Both boys are working through their own science program, but it’s fun since they tie in together at the moment. McKenna also started her biology co-op with a friend. 

Zachary had his first science lab this week, so we modified a lab Kaleb had to go along with Zachary’s. His sample ended up molding even though we refrigerated it as soon as it arrived, but it still ended up being pretty cool. 

We have two different microscopes on hand here – one that’s a very basic model and then a higher quality one we purchased a few years ago for our high school biology class. It was a little hard getting a picture of our view, but kind of neat with the small view we could get. 

On a completely unrelated note to anything, it’s not often that I splurge and buy myself a pair of shoes (especially if they are over $15). But OH MY GOODNESS!! I haven’t worn anything other than my new (and only pair) of these Chacos this week. They are super comfy and cute. A little like a flip flop – but versatile enough to wear with something semi-dressy. HUGE win for me!!

That’s it for this week. :) Next week we are adding in a little bit more curriculum wise (reading and writing and Bible) so we will be at about a full load with all of the kids. Easing in is great!

What have you been up to?