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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

 

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

Building Models, the SAT, and Getting on Track – Homeschool and Life Happenings

This week was fairly laid back and more of a “get-back-on-track” week for us: reviewing where we SHOULD be at this point in the school year, adjusting our schedules as needed, making sure we have all quizzes/tests completed for the older kids, and looking forward to make sure we have all the things we need for the upcoming few weeks. 

There were a few areas that needed tweaking, but I think overall we are all feeling better (aka – mom is feeling better) and next week will be definitely more focused. 

McKenna and I started off the week seeing the musical “Urinetown” – the one she will be in this coming November. It was great to see it live and get a better feel for how the musical flows. I know the title sounds odd, but it is rather hilarious – a satire if you will on so many things, and McKenna is going to do fabulous as one of the leads (and she is so excited). 

Overall the kids are doing well staying on task, although I keep forgetting some of the little things, like typing, for Kaleb. With the schoolroom all out of whack, it makes it a little harder to not be in a routine up there, so I’m going to have to make some lists to put on his desk with things he needs to check off daily. 

This week we did a little dictionary work to go along with the book he is reading on the Wright Brothers. He isn’t particularly thrilled with this newest book because it is a little tougher to read, but he is doing great with comprehension. 

Most mornings we get a rather short time with Laurianna before she heads off to classes at the community college. She is almost at the halfway point in the semester and doing great so far. She is loving all of her classes (microbiology), but sometimes there are ones you have to take regardless. 

This last week she took the SAT and in the next few weeks she will be studying for her nursing entrance tests (Kaplan) – but no pressure at all!

 

In his chemistry class, Kaleb is learning about atoms right now, so we worked on building an atom model made out of styrofoam balls. 

And you know as luck would have it, I found all the leftover styrofoam balls from Zachary’s model AFTER I’d bought new ones for Kaleb and he had painted them. I can be my own worst enemy sometimes when it comes to re-organizing things. 

The finished model turned out pretty great though! I’m pretty sure he created an atom of lead, but don’t quote me on that, ok? 

Can we stop for a moment and chat about some of the most amazing baking pans I have ever owned? Ones that make me want to slowly buy every single size they have available?

These aluminized steel pans are nothing short of incredible. No non-stick spray. Barely any cleanup. Just fabulous. The cupcakes I made popped right out of the pan, and it’s ready to use again. Seriously. They’ve made me want to bake all the time (which I haven’t decided if that’s a good thing or not yet…). 

The boys and I are having fun playing this new game together as well. We’re still getting the feel for it, but it reminds me a bit of Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride – almost as if they merged, had a baby, and themed it after national parks. It’s a little bit of geography and learning all rolled into a game, and that’s a win-win for me! 

Tomorrow the boys and I will be finishing up some prep work for their upcoming Scout camping trip and some badge prerequisites (yay, me!). They are both hoping to complete two badges over the weekend, so Rick and I are helping them read through the booklets and finish a few steps so they will be able to knock two more off. Fun fact: it will be almost freezing at night when they camp and it was 90 degrees earlier this week. 

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. 

Sunshine, Legos, and Curriculum that Clicks – Homeschool and Life Happenings

This summer we haven’t had much time for camping or family trips. Well, other than our two and a half week trip to Europe (grins). Once we returned home from those adventures, the days/weeks were full of recovering from our travels, swim team, and the girls’ work schedules. 

That and a whole bunch of rain. And more rain. 

We’d been complaining that we hadn’t camped nearly as much, but then when the sun actually started shining, we realized that almost every weekend would have been a miserable, soppy mess. 

BUT SUNSHINE HAPPENED ALL WEEKEND!!! 

We met another family in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. One of the things Zachary really wanted to see was the point where the Potomac and Shenandoah River meet. Because of all the recent rain and hurricane that came up along the East Coast, the water levels were ridiculous.

Granted, not nearly as high as they’ve been in record years, but everything was still a mess. The Appalachian Trail was closed as well because the water was covering the trail at one point. 

The campground had an early trick-or-treat night (which we didn’t know about), so a quick Walmart run resulted in some silly costumes for the kid (a princess, a pirate, a nerd, and someone from the 80s), along with a younger princess friend. 

As soon as we were back from camping, Kaleb headed to one of his Lego League meetings. The group of boys have built their robot and also created several attachments to complete the various missions, but they are still working on completing the programs for those missions and the timing to earn the highest number of points. 

They’ve worked so hard this year and are building on the knowledge they gained last year, so this is so much fun to see their improvements. Their competition day is in early November, so they still have several weeks to tweak their robot’s maneuvers and put together their presentation. It will be fun to see how they do this year compared to last year!

Zachary typically starts his day with Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1. He is doing really well with the class. I haven’t quite figured out what the fascination is with using the computer downstairs rather than the laptop we have for the boys, but if it gets finished, I really suppose I shouldn’t complain, right? 

Both boys are reading new books now. Zachary is about halfway through of The Witch of Blackbird Pond and Kaleb is reading Wilbur and Orville Wright: Young Fliers. The one Zachary is reading isn’t on his initial reading list, but since he is working through them a little more quickly than we anticipated, we added this one in. Kaleb isn’t as excited about the new book in comparison to reading Boxcar Children (a little more challenging), but it’s finally clicking for him as well. 

With the schoolroom in complete upheaval at the moment, McKenna spends most of her day curled up in her room working on her school. Hilariously she has created a bit of a “nest” and is usually surrounded by her laundry, schoolbooks, and makes everything all cozy. 

One of the best changes we made this year was switching to the History and Geography Lifepacs – it’s been a perfect fit for Kaleb. At the start of each unit, we divide the readings up over a series of days. It’s given him a visual of how much to do each day, and helped him mentally not get overwhelmed with the work for the year. 
The smaller units are a HUGE win for us, rather than having one (seemingly) overwhelming text. Loving it!!! 

Usually we are able to fit our school work into four days, but this week we are going to do a little bit on Friday too to catch up and fill in the things we have either missed or put aside until we had time. We’re also planning on a little fun too (I have a new game which I’m sure will be met by groans, but we’ll see!).  

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. 

Serving, a Field Trip, a Surgery, and a College Visit – Homeschool and Life Happenings

It’s amazing how there are times when life can seem to fly by and at the same time go ever-so-slow.

The last two weeks have been like that in many ways. We’ve been plugging along with school, but we’ve had a whirlwind of things happening both in and out of the house that made it really hard for me to sit down (both physically and mentally). 

Between getting the day-to-day school done and then juggling some parenting stuff heaped on top of it, it has really been an exhausting two weeks. 

We’ve been dealing with good days of school (everyone happy and working hard) versus days when there have been tears (from child and parent), self-doubts on my part, and moments of crazy fun and laughter together. The roller coaster of it all 

Keeping it real – this is the current state of our school room. McKenna has been working off of my desk since the wall behind hers in being primed. We haven’t even started painting yet because life has just been so full. 

Because of the disarray, it’s meant we’ve been all over the house with our school time (even though we are more focused when we are in one room). 

Zachary has been working on several science labs/projects with Exploration Education. His first one was building a racer (battery powered) to help us measure mph (speed) (measuring the distance traveled and the time it took). 

Something fun in this experiments was seeing the difference a battery makes. Apparently some of the 9 volt batteries in our closet are used/old and the car was moving rather pitifully. We recently purchased new lithium 9v batteries and the speed on the racer was hilarious in comparison! 

The second project Zachary built for physical science was a steam boat. His vessel wasn’t 100% sea-worthy, but it did putter around the tub for a bit without taking on too much water. 

In this experiment, he built a boat using a thin metal sheet, an excessive amount of hot glue (grins), attached a small boiler plate, and then used a small candle to heat the boiler plate that eventually powered the boat in the water. 

Kaleb started his typing program from Keyboarding without Tears finally (I may have forgotten for a bit). It’s definitely a bit more intense for him than the level we used last year (and we’ve had to switch to another laptop since the boys’ laptop is a bit glitchy at times). 

Laurianna has been working hard in her four classes at the community college and survived a microbiology test as well as her first paper for her English class. Something encouraging to me was having her professor comment on her knowledge of MLA (that may be an area we have drilled on over the last few years). 

Later in the week we also visited another university to talk to them about their RN to BSN program and see if their may work with her current studies. Prior to heading into this visit, she was leaning very heavily toward attending another university, but is now reconsidering her options, especially because it would also cut back on expenses and offers some different options. 

Once a month the kids and I help serve at a local church and serve a meal to those in the area who need a hot meal. The kids have become a huge help – but let me tell you something: they don’t always want to do it and attitudes sometimes stink when we head out. 

I get it. I don’t always want to either, but regardless, we go and serve. If there is one thing we really do want to instill in our kids, it’s that it isn’t always about what we want to do, but more about putting the needs of others above ourselves. 

At the end of last week, my dad also had back surgery. Initially his surgery was scheduled for the following week, but he was bumped up last minute so much of my Friday was spent waiting for updates on his seven hour surgery, being with my mom or him at the hospital, and then hanging out after all was done. He is home and has a long recovery period over the next few months, but hopefully this will offer some relief for his back. 

Earlier this week I shared a picture of how life feels at the moment: a bit messy. Kaleb was working on some of his schoolwork at the counter and they are covered with “stuff” – letters that need to be filed, bills that need to be paid, random junk and other things that need to be organized. 

We do school and life still happens in the midst of it. So while he works and I talk him through things, I cleaned up (somewhat). It’s one of the perks and downsides of homeschooling. We’re home which means messes are made while we are living and working, and often those messes seem to multiply. :) 

McKenna is plugging along to in her work. One thing I loved hearing the other day was that McKenna’s favorite subject is Algebra. She wasn’t a fan of geometry (I really can’t say that I blame her), but Algebra is something she loves. (My inner math geek is rather pleased with this.) 

Here’s the honest part about homeschooling our teens: there are days that I get a lot of pushback. Different personalities sometimes result in my hearing things that can really hurt and cut straight to my insecurities as a parent/teacher. And the yuck in that area can be really hard to sort through.  

Mid-week I walked into the schoolroom to find the boys had pulled out our Backseat Drawing Jr. game (aff link). They were supposed to be working on a few other things, and my initial reaction was one of frustration and wanting to get them back on track. 

And then I took a deep breath and instead sat down to play with them. 

Games are something I love and the plan was to include them much more this year in our school time, and quite honestly – we needed some time of fun. McKenna came into the schoolroom after a bit and we all took turns giving directions. 

One person has a picture card and everyone else tries to draw an object based on how the card holder describes it. So much laughing and quite a good way to show the importance of accurate phrasing and step-by-step directions (and following them). Also how people interpret things can be hilarious!

We wrapped up this week with a day-long Shakespeare workshop with Zachary and McKenna while Kaleb had the chance to hang out at a friend’s house and work on his school work and also build some of the missions for this year’s Lego League. We’ve been planning this trip since May and first saw the play As You Like It in the morning and then attended two workshops based on portions of the play: one on character interpretation/movement and another on poetry and learning how Shakespeare uses iambic pentameter throughout his writing (and how each line can be interpreted multiple ways based on inflection). 

That’s the bulk of our last two weeks – minus some parenting drama. I hope you all are doing well and would love to hear about your homeschool time! 

Be sure to stop by WeirdUnsocializedHomeschoolers.com and hang out with some other moms who are sharing their day-to-day happenings.