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Camping in the Snow and Other Fun – Homeschool and Life Happenings

How was your week? Here it’s been feeling like a whole lotta spring, but also the weather has been fickle. 

And by fickle, I mean snow, ice, and freezing rain one day, and then two days later a balmy 75 degrees with the windows wide open and kids going nuts outside. 

Need proof? 

Zachary and Kaleb went camping with their Boy Scout troop over the weekend and hiked about 3 miles into their spot just before the snow started. Those lovely hammocks covered with tarps you see on the left? That’s where my two crazy boys slept while I was snug as could be in my bed at home. 

They did have a blast, stayed (mostly) warm until one of them stepped into the stream, but otherwise it was definitely a memory-making trip. 

While the boys were camping, the girls went out with us to go see The Greatest Showman. We’ve been listening to the soundtrack on Spotify for what seems like forever, and a discount theatre started showing it this past week, so we took advantage of the $3 tickets. 

McKenna has since been belting out the tracks, and the poor dog isn’t too fond of her choreography that goes along. (But I promise, the movie is so good!!!!!)

Although we are moving into All About Reading 4, we are still reviewing the word and phonogram cards for Level 3. That’s one thing I want to make sure of is that Kaleb has a SOLID understanding of the words and phonograms he has been learning (and remembers them). 

Kaleb has really been enjoying Keyboarding Without Tears as well and works through several stages of each lesson daily. He has been working through the lower levels since we bought a bundle to go along with Handwriting Without Tears, and at the rate he is going through the levels, we may end up purchasing the next level for him to finish out the year. 

I know the cat has nothing much to do with school, but this was pretty much our mid-week: outside and enjoying the weather. I have a gazillion pictures on my camera at the moment of said cat because the kids kept taking him outside and snapping pictures while he meandered around enjoying a bit of freedom. 

Wednesday night the three youngest and I helped out with childcare at an indoor inflatable playground. During the month of February I’ve been teaching the kids (ages 3-11) in a mini Bible-school of sorts while their parents have a chance to join a Bible study at our church nearby. 

All the kids have been coming home exhausted (mom too) – just one more week to go and we’ll be back to quiet Wednesday nights… :) 

Laurianna and I had a rather quiet evening on Thursday, so she had the opportunity to catch up on her Pre-Calculus lessons and ask questions when she would get a little stuck. Initially the year started out a little rough for her (much in part to me not having the correct scientific calculator – guess who didn’t read all the way through the required components). Since that’s been straightened out, the class is going much more smoothly for her and she is about halfway through her book – so a little behind, but she has been working hard to catch up. 

That’s about it for our week! Hope you all have had a great one and would love to hear what you’ve been up to!

The Week That About Wore Me Out – Homeschool and Life Happenings

This past week was rather full both school-wise and with life in general. Or at least felt that way. Not only did we have something going on almost every day, practically every evening was full too. 

I may have almost cried when I realized that there was an unexpected meeting on Tuesday night I hadn’t factored into my schedule. Classic overcommitting and life in general.

Monday we started off the week babysitting our friend’s sweet little son. This is the same little one we watched a few weeks ago and overall it was a fairly easy day school-wise. 

Kaleb has finished up his handwriting program for the year, so he started on Keyboarding without Tears. So far it’s been rather easy for him, but it’s been a great way to ease him into learning how to type (and I have a feeling he will enjoy this much more than actual handwriting). 

Laurianna has been having fun doodling what she has learned in her human anatomy class too. I love her creativity and the fun that she is having in her learning. 

Tuesday we had co-op with our friends and the boys had much fun with quite a few challenges, above they made a box out of paper and decorated it for Valentine’s Day. Then it was filled with candies and  they had to attach something to make it go down a zip line. 

Hands-on for the win!

Wednesday the boys and I wrapped up volume 1 of Mystery of History and pulled out the second book. The first volume covers from the beginning of time through about 33 AD. It has been a lot of fun re-learning things along with the boys, especially about all of the Caesars and how the Roman Empire was growing. We’re moving right on into volume 2 now and now learning about Nero.

Kaleb wrapped up Level 3 of All About Reading this week and will be moving on to All About Reading 4  next Monday. 

You all. I could seriously cry. The last year or two have been tough in the arena of reading. There has been a lot of pushing through and reviewing things (sometimes it feels like over and over….). But the last few weeks, something is clicking with him and he is doing amazing. YAY!!!!!!

This girl has been glowing the last bit of the week since she was able to get her own cell phone this week. She has been saving her money to purchase a phone and pay for the first few months of her service (yep, we’re the parents who ask make our kids cover their own cell phone bill. 

The Foundations in Personal Finance class has been a great fit for her this year, especially in learning more about budgeting, saving, and planning for the future. Over the next few months, McKenna is also participating in the H&R Block budget challenge along with the other kids in our homeschool co-op. 

We had a gorgeous day weather-wise (almost 80!!), which also warranted some outdoor school time via the porch. Yay for homeschooling! 

And last thing – Laurianna has been working through her Teaching Textbooks Pre-Calculus. A HUGE shout-out for a program that walks you through what in the world you are doing wrong. 

I didn’t have a fancy schmancy calculator like this when I was in school, so figuring out how to use it can be a pain in the rear (just being honest). So, super wonderful when the program literally walks you through and shows you what you need to look for on the screen when you are using it. Apparently we didn’t have it set to degrees, so we came up with the wrong answer. (Can I just say – hallelujah for a hand-holding sometimes?)


That’s about it for our week – how have you been and what was a great part of your week? 

An Ice Festival, More Reading, and Co-op – Homeschool and Life Happenings

This week has been fairly boring (to say the least). Not much out of the ordinary, but another week finished – and that’s always something to celebrate. On the bright side, we were home a bit more this week and didn’t have quite as many errands or appointments. And that is a wonderful thing. 

Last Saturday we took a trip to Maryland to visit with friends for the day. Frederick, MD has a cute downtown and on the first Saturday in February they have a Fire & Ice Festival with ice sculptures all over the town. It was FREEZING (understatement). Good for the ice, but for people, not as much. :)

The BEST part about this trip though was hanging out with friends. Hope (the mom) has been one of my best friends since our senior year of college, and we have vacationed together over the years and even though we live quite a bit apart, we try to meet up once or twice a year to spend time together – and I love that our kids can have fun together too. Just makes my heart happy. 

5th Grade Happenings

Reading is moving along. I cannot stress how much attitude truly plays into how this area of our day goes. Kaleb isn’t always thrilled about reading, but when he is prepped and willing, the reading itself runs smoothly. 

Kaleb’s day at private school last week was much fun. His biggest disappointment was not being able to finish all 50 of the questions on the math quiz they took. It was a timed test (which we haven’t done at home), and he was only able to get 48/50 answered in the time frame, but managed to get them all correct. He was just mad he didn’t get all 50 done. We have been cracking up about that all week. 

7th Grade Happenings

Zachary has been working hard this week too. He has worked ahead and finished both science and the Who is God? series, so his focus over the remainder of the year is his math, reading, vocabulary, writing, history, grammar, and whatever other fun things we add in over the weeks. 

9th Grade Happenings

McKenna’s laptop is having a bit of a screen issue. She and I may have differing opinions on how and why that happened, especially since she has a newer laptop (cough), but we going to have to deal with it at this point. 

Our co-op class on Tuesdays (literature and personal finance) has been moving along. We’re reading Julius Caesar right now, which is fun since the boys and I have been learning about him and the Roman government during his time this past week. And bonus for co-ops at home – you can wear your sloth pajamas and have fun with that. 

This is the other aspect of homeschooling that can be rather hilarious at times. :) On Thursdays we hang out at a friend’s house for biology, and often we have furry company that feels anywhere is acceptable to relax. 

11th Grade Happenings

The weather this week (ice and a little snow) meant that Laurianna had one of her classes cancelled, but otherwise she has been working at a nearby pool lifeguarding and also prepping for a youth worship night at church this coming Sunday. 

Mom Stuff

Every Wednesday in February our church is hosting a Bible study night and providing childcare which I am helping head up this month. The kids and I helped with this last year and it was a lot of fun (and crazy), but this year while Rick takes a class, the younger three and I are helping again (Laurianna has class). 

I haven’t had as much time for reading this week but am really hoping to have some time this weekend to sit down and focus. The book I’m currently reading, Godspeed, is one I’m loving, but it’s one that requires more of my attention because I am gleaning quite a bit from it and don’t want to miss anything. 

That’s about it for our week – how have you been and what was a great part of your week? 

The Week One of Our Kids Visited a Private School – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Before you all drop you cup of coffee, let me fill you in quickly. :) Today we sent one of our kids to visit a local private school with one of his friends. 

You can hear a little bit more about it in the below video that sums up our week and a few other things, or keep reading – up to you. 

Kaleb won’t be attending other than this one day, but it’s something a little fun for him to see the flip side of life. You know – the one where you have to be out the door by 7am, stay at school until 3pm and wear clothing within a specific dress code. 

Since he is our one that likes to wear whatever, freaks out when he isn’t done by a specific time (or feels super behind), I have a feeling that this will be a great “Hey, remember when…” moment if he starts complaining about how rough he has it homeschooling. :) 

One of the highlights of this week has been reading with Kaleb. He finished up his book, Who Was Martin Luther King Jr., and now we are going back through the second half of All About Reading 3 to review some of the blends that he is struggling with. 

There are some days that run more smoothly than others, much of it depending on his attitude (isn’t that true of all of us?). We also started using the new app from AALP rather than our whiteboard, which is great if we want to be somewhere else in the house. 

Overall though, the review of the last bit of Level 3 is definitely helping, in many areas, but especially in Kaleb’s confidence levels. 

7th Grade Happenings

Zachary’s been working hard this week to get a little ahead so he could take a day off Friday and hang out with a friend. Our local school system has the day off, so he invited a friend over. I’m more than happy to see him motivated and definitely want to encourage that! 

9th Grade Happenings

One of the things that I love (and often forget about) is how flexible we can be with our homeschooling. While we are – sometimes we aren’t. 

Case in point. We didn’t really cover poetry in depth with Laurianna, which when she started her English class was a little bit of a hurdle. We are looking at the Grammar of Poetry class from Compass Classroom to add to McKenna’s year and likely run it into next year, depending on how the class flows for her. It’s also one that we will work through with another family and tie it in with our literature classes and co-op.

The flexibility of homeschooling comes in this: we aren’t tied to finishing a program during one school year. We can either pace out a class over the course of a few years, or two different semesters, and essentially make it work for our family.  

I mentioned in the video that the transcript we’ve been using for Laurianna is sorted by subject instead of the classes she took each year. Above is an example of how I’ve laid it out so far (you can click on the image to open a pdf file example. 

11th Grade Happenings

Laurianna is happily moving along with her studies, especially now that she has her English class off the table for this semester. Her classes at the community college are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, so she spends the free time that she has working on Pre-Calculus and Latin 2. 

Her work schedule has been fairly light this week, so she has been cozying up in bed to work through homework and her other subjects. The above picture cracks me up because our dog, Addie, has to be right in the middle of whatever it is we are doing. Even math. 

The Mom Life

I’ve been quiet here on the blog this week, mainly because I have been swamped working on other projects in addition to homeschooling: putting together a website for a local pool, creating lesson plans for a church class in February, dentist visits (yippee), having our wills re-done, and shuttling the kids back and forth to all over the place.

So life

It’s been a little hectic to be honest and I don’t feel like I’ve had a lot of downtime, especially since I haven’t had time for reading. That alone tells me that I need to slow down just a little bit. :) 

That’s about it for our week – how have you been and what was a great part of your week? 

Drawing, Babysitting, and a Full Week – Homeschool and Life Happenings

This week we had a little someone staying with us during the day. He has been so much fun (and flexible) as we’ve gone to two co-ops, taken a trip to have passports submitted for the kids, and been back and forth as the kids needed help. Seeing both boys want to hold him – melts my heart. Zachary has been so helpful with him this week too. 

However, a furry member of the household spent the week rather distressed that my lap was being taken by another. 

Over the course of the last week, McKenna picked up her pencil and decided to do some sketching. While we do have an art curriculum we’ve used in years past with McKenna, and will likely pick that up along with what she is doing now, but currently she is rather enjoying sketching faces and eyes. 

It hasn’t been anything formal quite yet, but apparently we will be adding art into the remainder of her school year as she is rather enjoying it. 

Laurianna has been hard at both schoolwork and lifeguarding. She has been working a few days a week at a local pool and has classes three days a week at the community college. Her developmental psychology class is one she is loving and she is back in the groove with anatomy as well.  

One of our big decisions this week for her was to drop her English 112 class. One of the primary reasons was the workload. While yes, it’s a great class for her to take, the professor announced up front that the syllabus wasn’t set in stone and would change several times over the semester. An assignment was dropped on the class last week that was putting a tremendous stress on our girl, and since we were well within the drop period, we decided that it was a good time to stop. And truthfully, while yes it’s a good experience, I need to keep reminding myself that she is in high school and has more than enough credits to graduate. :) 

We had our larger co-op class again this week where the boys had a blast working on a science experiment that was a little hair raising…

Zachary’s class worked on map skills, critical thinking, and much more in their forensics class. The activity to go along had them predict where a ring of car thieves would next strike and what vehicle would be targeted.

We have a little bit of respite with labs for biology with McKenna and her friend Emily, but dissections will begin soon. The two of them love to cozy up on the couch and study together before their weekly quizzes. 

Can I take a moment to say how much I truly love Teaching Textbooks? Kaleb is learning about decimals right now (converting fractions to decimals and vice versa, adding/multiplying numbers with decimals) which can be a bit frustrating for him at times as he tries to grasp the concepts, but I love the hints the program offers and that he is working through more independently. Yes, I still help him (and the others) out at times, but this program has been a huge help to us!

In science, Kaleb is continuing to work through his Nancy Larson Science. One thing that I really love about this program is Kaleb and I take turns reading and work on study skills together. We’ve been learning about food chains and predators/consumers in ecosystems this past week. While he isn’t fond of reading, he does well with the layout of the program and it pushes him a little out of his comfort zone (which is good at times). 

Here’s a peek at the curriculum we are using this year…

5th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2017


That’s all for our schoolweek How are you all doing – and what have you been up to? 

First Week Back After Break – Homeschool and Life Happenings

You know what they say about the best laid plans, right? After getting everything lined up to start up after our Christmas break, Monday morning started with a call from the ER. My grandmother had called an ambulance and spent some time with the doctors there and needed someone to bring her home. (She is fine – no worries.)

So – the day already had a big kink in it and the plans to whip everything into magical shape (because you know it would have all fallen into place right.this.moment) went a bit out the window. 

Incidentally, those pens above? My absolute favorite ever. And of course the homeschool planner is too. But erasable and pens to color code things are my love language.

BEFORE I FORGET – don’t miss this giveaway from WriteShop (our favorite homeschool writing curriculum). Maybe you are looking for a mid-year switch, or want to learn a little more, but don’t miss the chances to enter and win!

The boys and I jumped back in with history right away (and yes, our dog likes to be a part of everything we do). While I read through lessons this week on Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, the boys helped me sort and count LEGOs from several of our kits that we are through using and getting ready to sell. 

Keeping hands busy while listening is a HUGE help. :)  

Our mornings have been starting off with CNN10 again. The boys have missed that after a few weeks off over break (me too!). 

Overall, it’s just been getting back into the daily routine: history, reading, math, grammar, writing, reading aloud, science, etc…

Laurianna’s classes have started back up for the spring semester. In addition to English and her second anatomy class, she is taking a Developmental Psychology class as well. Monday she interviewed for a lifeguarding position at a nearby pool and will be starting work with them on Friday. She is rather excited about the new job. :) 

McKenna has been spending time working on biology this week. We’re back in the routine of co-op class and lab with our friend, so she had some prep to do. 

Currently we are studying classification. Our lab this week focused on the identification of various leaves and insects and learning how to classify. We’ve had to edit the labs a bit from what is suggested because we switched mid-year from our other program. 

One thing we are already struggling with though – finding that balance and jumping back into the routine of getting things done (and not getting distracted). McKenna has had a few days this week where her schoolwork has extended a bit late into the evening. 

I’m trying not to push her too much on getting behind (or staying focused), because this is something she really has to learn to manage on her own.

And finally, we’re working hard on filling out passport applications and getting everything lined up for our trip to the Netherlands in May. I won’t talk about how many times I’ve messed up the second page of every application and how many times I’ve reprinted it. At some point I’ll get it all correct and we’ll submit them in the next week (hopefully). 

That’s all for our week back to school. How are you all doing – and what have you been up to?