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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. 

College Visits, Mom Doubts, and Routines – Homeschool and Life Happenings

I’m not going to lie. This week hasn’t been all sunshine and happiness in the house. Aside from the fact that it’s literally been overcast and we were prepping for some major rain thanks to Hurricane Flo (which it now looks like will miss us), kiddos have had headaches, and there have been some rather stinky attitudes all around. 

The kind that make you cry a bit, call a friend to vent and get some reassurance that you are not scarring your children for all eternity. And then you pray even more for guidance.

We all have doubts and there are days when little (or big) things the kids say or do touch on insecurities and make us question all that we are doing. 

So we regroup. Refocus. See if there is something that needs to be tweaked. And we keep going.

Our Days…

One of these days I will get around to sharing what a day looks like in our house. Except here’s the thing – each day doesn’t follow a set routine. 

We do start our days with routine of sorts, but our kids aren’t on a minute-by-minute block schedule. We know what subjects need to be done each day and work through them in the order that works best. 

But every morning the boys watch CNN 10 together and then take turns using the downstairs computer to work on their Teaching Textbooks. Having the 3.0 online version of their math levels has been a huge help for this since they can use any computer in the house. 

As soon as they finish up math, we read together. Currently we’re reading The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt and absolutely loving it. And because of all the cream puff references, I need to find a local place that makes them fresh so we can all enjoy one. :)

Independent Work

Back up in the schoolroom (which is still unpainted), the kids all work on their work independently as much as they can. Zachary is on a bit of a learning curve with this – checking in with me and making sure he is tracking everything in his planner. 

For the most part, I’m sitting between Kaleb and Zachary and helping Zachary as needed. Kaleb is getting into a better routine and definitely jumping into his new subjects without complaining. 

Kaleb finished up his first unit from AOP Lifepac History and Geography and started work on the second unit. He really likes the format and although the reading at times is hard (hello to names of countries from the beginning of civilization). Having him writing more is also a huge encouragement for me. 

If anything, this year has been a definite turn in attitude for Kaleb toward his school work and expectations. We did have a talk at the start of the year about him needing to step it up a bit in some areas. Since he loves swimming, we made a comparison to his dropping times in events to his level of practicing. 

For him that helped him understand that even when he doesn’t necessarily enjoy something (such as reading or writing), it won’t get better if he doesn’t keep practicing and work on it. 

One more subject we added in this week was spelling. We’re not using paper to write the practice words this year, but instead using our  Boogie Board which Kaleb loves. 

In reading, Kaleb has started reading Mad Scientists Club in addition to The Yellow House Mystery Boxcar Children book. He was a bit hesitant at first in adding more reading to his day, but he is really enjoy the Boxcar Children (and wants to read more), and has 

McKenna has been working and figuring out her schedule and trying to balance her drama class since she spends about 8 hours (or more) in class each week in addition to memorizing her lines and songs. It’s definitely been a lot of work, but she is loving the class. 

Laurianna and I also re-visited one of the colleges she is interested in this week to make sure the classes she is taking at the community college line up with their requirements. After this fall semester she will have all of her nursing pre-requisites completed, so she will be able to apply directly to the nursing program and begin working on her electives as well. Next week we will visit another school and talk to them about their RN to BSN program and see how it will line up with her current classes. 

The last bit of the week we’ve been watching the hurricane via the Frying Pan Ocean live cam. While we are thankful that our area will not be receiving the magnitude of rain that was initially expected, we’re watching areas our friends live in and praying it doesn’t cause as much damage as they expect. 

That’s it for us this week. Hope you all are having an amazing week – talk to you soon! 

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

A School Picture, No Internet, and Experiments – Homeschool and Life Happenings

It only took us two weeks, but we finally grabbed a “back to school 2018” picture last Friday when everyone was finally home. No editing (because my house looks yellow, it’s white), only two children had to be told to go put on something else because NO THAT IS NOT OK TO WEAR, and one child is completely faking her height by wearing boots with 2-3 inch heels so she can beat out her sister. 

But they are all smiling, so all is well – 6th grade (Kaleb), 8th grade (Zachary), 10th grade (McKenna), and 12th grade (Laurianna), and now I can check that off my list (even if it’s two weeks late. Don’t judge.). 

Not too long after though, I managed to back out of our garage and into our other vehicle when we were on our way to McKenna’s play practice. Not a shining moment. On the other hand, the boys will have fun helping me change out the light casing for the tail light and get that fixed. 

Let’s have a sweet puppy and kitty moment, shall we? 

As for this week, you know that saying about the best laid plans? Yes, well, apparently they have met our internet provider. 

We’ve gotten spoiled the last few months having internet that has a speed of over 1.3MB – we’re much closer to 100MB now after many years of begging and pleading. 

Unfortunately, that does little good when there is a service outage and then a small router goes berserk and the internet is down for two days. Especially when your husband’s phone is apparently in the middle of an update, freezes, and then he spends the next two days trying to access all the stuff. 

I know it’s a first world problem, but it’s crazy how dependent we’ve gotten on our devices, isn’t it? And with so many programs relying on computer access these days, it can put a little kink in plans when they can’t be accessed. 

Instead we relied on my phone’s hotspot and made the best of things (grumble, grumble) until things were fixed on Thursday for us. 

There was lots of reading aloud, independent reading, sticking with our everyday subjects, and then adding in some fun chemistry experiments at the end of the week for McKenna. 

Kaleb finished up the first unit in his AOP Lifepac History and Geography set – woot! 

I mentioned on FB and Instagram that we are using a different chemistry program this year for McKenna and on top of that, we don’t have the same group setting (i.e. I actually have to teach this time around). 

To say I’m a bit nervous is an understatement. I love the math aspect of chemistry and the fun hands-on, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t get frustrated at times with McKenna because we are both really strong personalities – which can cause going toe-to-toe at times. 

So far though I am really liking the layout of this program and we had a blast working on the experiments this week together (we’re doing them with a friend too). 

This week we worked on three different experiments – separating a mixture of salt and parsley, learning about the conservation of mass, and also the law of definite proportions. We’re meeting every two weeks to review the previous chapter and prep for the test and then work ahead on the experiments for the upcoming lessons. That way the girls know what is supposed to happen and understand the experiment/concept when we get to that portion of the chapter. 

Well, other than all the experiments, the literal fender-bender, and our two week late back-to-school photo – that’s our week in a nutshell. 

Hope you all are having an amazing week – talk to you soon! 

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

Filling in the Subjects and a GREAT Start – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Our weeks are starting to fill up. This week McKenna began practice on Friday nights in addition to Saturday morning. Combined she is at the theatre about seven hours each week until the performance in November. Between that and the time she is pouring into line memorization and vocal practice each day, she is definitely earning her 1/2 credit. 

Since the theatre is about 30 minutes from our home, it means I have a chance to find a cozy spot nearby and hopefully get some work done over the next bit (assuming I choose to use my time wisely!). So far I’ve been choosing well. A cup of coffee, a pack of colored pens, and a planner were my company last week and I’m already making my pile for this week. 

Our mornings are still easing in as I’m waiting on the boy’s Bible study to arrive (I had a few things printed online since I had a credit somewhere and wasn’t in a rush) as well as their writing program. This week we added in math, science, and handwriting (Kaleb).

Each morning the boys are coming downstairs between by 7:30, grabbing breakfast, and then getting started on a few things they can do independently. 

First up is CNN 10 and then the boys rotate between independent reading and their Teaching Textbooks 3.0 math. Zachary started Algebra 1 this week and took the laid back approach with things the first two days (that is until someone reminded him that only so much could be done in his head and he won’t receive the benefit of the doubt if I cannot see his work on paper). 

Probably one of the most exciting things (for me) this week was having Kaleb work on his reading alone. The first day he read the chapter out loud to me and Zachary (which ended up being hilarious since he kept pronouncing words completely wrong on purpose and trying not to laugh). 

The other days he grabbed his book early in the day and sat down to read a chapter on his own. Once finished, I would ask him for a summary and then some specific comprehension questions to make sure he was getting it all. 

And one thing that is such a plus – having friends you can text and then immediately respond to share your joy with you. That’s something to love.  ❤️

One of the things that is cracking the kids up this week – the hint helpers in Algebra 2, Teaching Textbooks 3.0 . McKenna picked a dog floating on a piece of pizza and thinks it’s hilarious (and if it makes math more fun – BONUS!). :) 

Zachary worked through one chapter of his Physical Science from Exploration Education as well and built a racer and glider so far. He has a lab to go through with me still to complete the chapter, but is figuring out how to pace himself over the course of the week. 

We’ve been working on a little something for him that will remind him of WHAT he needs to accomplish each week and how often he needs to be working on each subject to give him a visual reminder (and so I’m not nagging him all the time). 

What is encouraging is watching him buckle down and apply himself. I realize we are only two weeks in and his load will get heavier in the upcoming two weeks, but he is already well ahead of where he was in this area last year!

Kaleb and I have been working each day through his Lifepac History and Geography set. We are *almost* done with the first booklet. It’s a new to us program, so we’re still figuring it all out, but so far we are both loving it. Because of his reading struggles, we are doing paired reading (he reads a paragraph and I read a paragraph). It takes us a little longer, but he is also writing his own answers (handwriting is a struggle too).

Best part though = no complaining. 👍🏻👍🏻 Kaleb is really loving it and it fits it perfectly with they way he enjoys working and learning. 

The walls in the classroom are finally getting a much needed coat of spackling as we prep for repainting (maybe this weekend??). 

McKenna also started Discovering Design with Chemistry this week (another new-to-us program) and we were able to sit down with the other family we will be working on labs with and come up with a bi-weekly schedule to get together. One more thing marked off the list! 

Each chapter will take us two weeks to go through, so plenty of time to read and get it all done before we meet and take the chapter tests. 

Kaleb and I also started Christian Kids Explore Chemistry.  After our lesson our “hands-on” lab was finding a few items around the house and recording the ingredients listed and seeing which ones we knew (and didn’t). 

Apparently Kaleb grabbed my camera at some point when I was working with Zachary and snapped a picture (for which I am thankful – especially since it wasn’t posed). 

My time most of the week has been spent in my chair, right between Zachary’s desk and Kaleb’s desk, so I can bounce back and forth between the two of them and help them when needed. It’s been a little crazy at times, but I’m sure as the year progresses and each boy gains confidence in their abilities and subjects it will allow me to step back a little.  

And this boy – seeing his 6’1″ frame is something that still amazes me every day. I don’t quite know when he managed to grow up and tower over me, but it really makes me incredibly thankful that I get to spend each day with him. :)

Mom Stuff

While the kids have their stuff, my main focus has been making sure we are getting things done (and not wandering off) this early in the game. Basically making a GREAT start to the school year. 

There’s still so much I feel “behind” in. My desk hasn’t been cleared off and organized – I still have to get things sorted from the end of last year. The school room needs to be repainted. 

Meanwhile though, I’ve been finishing my 2019-2020 planner, getting back into a meal planning cycle, trying to plan ahead as best as I can, and essentially catch my breath. 

And that’s a good and important thing too. Remembering to rest each day a bit in the afternoon. Bake again (I’ve really missed that!). Have a cup of coffee and savor it. 

It’s the little things – and I’m really trying to enjoy them! 

Hope you all are having an amazing week – talk to you soon! 

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

First Week Back 2018 – Homeschool & Life Happenings

Have you all started school yet? 

Well – we survived our first week! Despite my feelings of complete unpreparedness, we just jumped in and did it. Had we waited until everything was all in order, I’m sure there would have been 100 more reasons to hold off another week (or three). 

I didn’t even take our first day of school pictures. (True story) I texted Laurianna and asked her to take a selfie and send it to me, just so I could do a side by side of her kindergarten year and her senior year. 

I’m trying really hard not to think that over too much. My girl is graduating this year!

Meanwhile, my desk is covered in papers, I’m still waiting on a few things to be delivered (not crucial, just extra stuff), there are posters to hang, shelves to reorganize, but we started!

My hubby went away last weekend and I thought it would be great to repaint the school room before we started this week. We moved some stuff around (just a bit – and I’ll share more later), but with the moving there needed to be some touch-ups and minor spackling, so we were going to paint the entire room over in a new color. 

Unfortunately, in the adhesive map removal process, I managed to pull of the top layer of drywall, so my hubby (who is rather particular on finishing it right the first time) is going to have to do the fixing before we can paint. If you’ve read my blog for any time, you’ll know that having this UNFINISHED and staring at me every single day is jumping on my very last nerve. 

Solution: face my chair to the opposite wall so I don’t have to look at it every day. Done! (Ok, it’s not helping all the way, but it’ll do for now!)

Starting Slow and Easing In

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the years, it’s this: take it easy the first week or two. We decided to start off by going over the subjects we will be covering this year and get a feel for what needs to happen each week. Other than that, our days involved the following: 

6th grade: reading, language/grammar, and geography

8th grade: reading and geography

10th grade: government, literature, and drama

12th grade: ALL IN!! :) Laurianna started classes bright and early Monday morning. This semester she will be at the community college Monday through Thursday and had all classes this week. No easing in for her! 

Morning Routine

McKenna is typically off on her own with her work during the week, but the boys and are planning to have a morning routine where we will be able to sit and work on a few things daily (CNN 10, Bible study) and then loop through a few other things like art projects, learning games, or whatever else we’re in the mood for. 

CNN 10 was a favorite of the boys last year, but we often had issues with the streaming because our internet speed was horrid. In June we finally joined the 21st century and are streaming seamlessly now, so they are thrilled. 

At our library I recently found Boxcar Children graphic novels. One of the things Kaleb will be reading this year is one of those books, so I picked up several for him to read prior to reading the actual book. For him, it’s a little less intimidating (and builds his confidence), so I am ALL IN. 


One of the BIG events that has been talked about every day so far this week – McKenna auditioned for the fall musical and received one of the lead roles. She rotated between laughter and crying the first little bit and is now furiously memorizing lines. 

For her this means practice every Friday evening and Saturday morning for three hours each time. They have been meeting already several Saturdays this month and the musical will run mid-November, so lots of work to do between now and then. 

If you look closely, yep. Ice cream. For breakfast. Some days I’m just not going to argue with them, especially when they are dressed, ready to go, and doing school work. I can’t really complain about that, right? 

The boys and I started a new read-aloud this week, The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt, and even though we’re only a little bit in, they are laughing (or trying not to show they are). The story is set during 1967-68 and focuses on a 7th grade boy, Holling Hoodhood, who has to spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher while the rest of his class receives religious instruction. He is convinced his teacher hates him…and the rest is just hilarious. :)

And in other news, the driving continues with McKenna. This past week she graduated from driving down the smaller side roads to traveling on the more heavily-trafficked 55mph road. While it’s a little odd at times, she has really been doing well and gaining confidence each day (and hoping to drive more and more). 

Next week we will be adding in math for everyone along with the bulk of their remaining subjects, but still getting used to the overall day and routine.

Hope you all are having an amazing week – talk to you soon! 

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

Check-up, Surgery, and Braces – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Last week the final few books needed for our upcoming year were ordered and almost everything has been delivered (woot!). Monday I was able to spend some time printing off student planners for both McKenna and Zachary. Before I print off my homeschool planner, I need to make sure I’m not missing any subjects (because that’s happened in year’s past and it drives me nuts when I’ve printed something off incorrectly…). 

The week itself was pretty full though and didn’t leave much room for me to work on anything else. Monday morning I had my last visit and set of xrays at the orthopedic center for my arm and received an ALL CLEAR. It’s healed very well and I have almost full range of motion in the arm. For now, it’s just a matter of building back strength in that arm, but it’s great to not worry so much about it! 

McKenna has been working on her driving skills since she received her permit just before we left for Europe (please ignore the dirty car – we’ve had a lot of rain and live on a dusty road). She’s mainly been driving up and down our road, but we saw these signs on a friend’s car and decided to get a set for our van too because she feels a little “safer” letting others know to be patient if they are behind her. No kidding, the first day we were out driving with them on the van – someone was driving so.very.close to her. Just makes a mom’s heart beat 1,000 times faster and pray harder. 

The other thing McKenna needs to start soon – her online drivers ed program. We used this same program with Laurianna and it was great and tied in well with her behind-the-wheel portion. 

One of my brothers flew in from Maine early Wednesday morning (as in 12:30 am) just in time to head to the hospital to be with my mom for another surgery. A few months back she found another lump in the same area she had a cancerous mass removed last year. She waited until we were back from Europe and had a biopsy done in June and we found out that it was definitely cancerous. This week’s surgery removed the rest of the area and was a little more intense, and she was able to return home on Thursday thanks to a wonderful doctor (and my brother who is hanging out with her there). 

This summer has really been quite a bit of an emotional roller coaster in regards to my mom and the various other things happening in our family – to the point that some days, it’s just overwhelming. If anything, I cannot say how much I appreciate the strength and support friends have provided through texts, prayers, hugs, and just letting tears flow. Quite honestly, it’s one of the reasons we aren’t quite where I thought we’d be with the upcoming school year, but I’ve really come to a point of peace with that as well. Moving into our thirteenth year of homeschooling, well – there’s a lot of comfort in that, especially as I realize we have a lot of familiar programs we use and an overall routine that has served us well – and will continue to do so. 

Thursday marked one more change too in our family: another set of braces. We knew Zachary was going to need them and finally had the chance to put them on this week. He isn’t necessarily thrilled with the prospect of two years in braces (and is hoping his teeth will shift sooner!), but he does look forward to having his mouth and bite feel better. :) 

One of the best parts of the week though? I get to spend some time with one of my brothers. He lives quite a bit away and the last time we were able to see him was almost two years ago, so it’s great to spend the time we can together and the kids always look forward to his visits too. 

 

That’s it for this week – how are YOU doing in your school plans?