20 Best Tips
Teaching Textbooks

LEGO League and the PSAT – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Technically our week starts off on Sunday with Kaleb’s LEGO League. Sunday afternoons are programming days for the boys where they figure out what missions they want their robot to accomplish during the upcoming meet. 

The boys are awarded points for each mission they complete during few minutes their robot runs the table – and every degree counts when they are setting it up. So they program, run a test (or two), reprogram, retest…repeat. 

So far they have programmed in two missions and are working on a few more next week, and they also picked their team name, Block Busters. We are still waiting to hear the date of our meet. Meanwhile on Tuesdays the boys get together to talk about the presentation they also make on the meet day. 

Zachary finished up the last of his meals to earn his cooking badge for Boy Scouts, making one of the kids favorite lunches, bean dip. I know, exciting, but they love it and it sure beats a sandwich, something the bulk of our kids are strongly opposed to eating (I have no idea why). 

This dog. She’s a hot mess. Wherever we are, she is as well, but her favorite place in the schoolroom is in our beanbag chair, if not by herself, right plopped in the middle of the book we are trying to read. 

Laurianna had her third anatomy and lab test this week and did amazingly well. She has been pouring a lot of time and energy into her classes (go girl) and her grades are showing it. This week she also took the PSAT – now to wait for the results on that. She isn’t as confident about her test, and the waiting is a pain, but we’ll find out soon enough. Meanwhile, we prep for the SAT.

The leaves in our area are beginning to change – I LOVE fall! There was an amazing double rainbow as well. Between that, the colors popping, and having Bethel Music’s “Starlight” album playing, I may have been crying (quite literally) and all out worshiping. 

This week was also our joint co-op day (not just the high school kids) and the 10/11 year old boys had some STEM fun, breaking up into teams to build a tower with newspapers. They also had fun trying to light up an LED light using pickles. (They are loving these hands-on projects). 

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

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? 

The Week with the First Paper – Homeschool and Life Happenings

The beginning of this week felt like it was off to a bit of a slow start – but at least a fun one. We had company over the weekend and pushed our bedtime (and the kids’) back a bit, so we slept in. Sort of. The kids are in a funk where they are starting to actually SLEEP IN. Someone pinch me. It’s a bit of an adjustment for me though. I realize that we have the flexibility to start school whenever we want to, but the kids are also used to finishing early, so when we start later…well, that would typically mean a bit of a push back in the day (we may or may not be having a disagreement on this). But they are sleeping in!!!!

The week started off with a hilarious video I found of the kids. McKenna was working in the schoolroom and she and Zachary decided to have a little fun recording videos on the computer. This was one of many, but I have watched it so many times and just laughed my head off. (I know this is a recording of the computer screen but still funny.) This is what happens when I leave the schoolroom…

The boys and I have been reading Gregor the Overlander together, the first book in the Gregor series. While I have a few other books I’d like to add to our reading pile, when the boys ask – we read!  Incidentally, the boy does enjoy the book, but not so much having his picture taken. :) I may still love the time we have to curl up on the couch together, so I will read whatever book they want.

Zachary is working through WriteShop I and this week wrote a descriptive paper about our cat, Taz. Emotions are a bit high in the house over the kitty since we had to take him to the emergency vet about a week ago and the cat has been a wee bit of a mess. Zachary chose to write a paper on him and it was really fun to see his thoughts unfold on the paper as he typed up his first “official” paper for me. I love all the levels of WriteShop, but when the kids move into WriteShop I and 2 it’s fun to see their writing develop even more. 

This Thursday we had our monthly volunteer time with a local soup kitchen. The boys were the only two able to help out this week (McKenna was catching up on a few things for school and Laurianna had classes at the community college). I know it’s only once a week, but it has been great over the years to get to know some of the people. 

A first for me this week – holding an essential oils class for my local friends. It’s been almost five years since we started using oils and they have since become a part of our daily life, from my hubby to each of the kids (and especially me). If any of you would like to know more of my story, I’d be happy to chat with you. 

For the record, my desk isn’t always the neatest place. There are often times that it gets a wee bit overwhelmed and m.e.s.s.y. to say the least. This week feels like I’ve been back and forth so much and haven’t had a chance to sit in one place for long. This weekend my goal is to sit down and get everything straightened up – because clean makes me feel like I can breathe a little easier. 

I know I’ve been a bit quiet here on the blog this week, but I’m a in a wee bit of a funk – tired and trying to figure out how to balance this new season. It seems that just as we get adjusted to one chunk of the year, it all switches around. With three kiddos essentially in the teen stage there are a lot of social schedules to maneuver around too. Welcome to life, eh? :) 

That’s about it for this week – how are YOU doing and how was your week? 

 

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?