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Archive for the ‘Homeschooling’ Category

I am thankful for homeschooling.  I know my children better than I think I would if they were in school.  This is not to say I know them better than brick and mortar school parents know their children!  I just think for me, it would be tough to know all four of them as well as I do if they were in school all day.  I would struggle personally, to have the time to spend knowing them.  I know myself, and know my limits.

I love that they eat lunch together every day.   I love that they know what the other ones are studying and can talk about it together.  I love when the olders see a book the youngers are reading and tell them what a great book it was.  I love hearing them laugh as they go about their day.  I love that they play cards over lunch.  I love that they enjoy being a family.

I love that I get to spend the day with them.  I love that I get to share my favorite books and movies with them.   I love reading to them, and sharing their world of discovery.  I love hearing them use information they’ve learned in real life.  I love seeing them struggle with something and then the lightbulb going on!  I love hearing Schoolhouse Rocks songs that I knew when I was a kid 🙂

I might be a quivering pile of jello when they all move out!  Check on me then!  Today I am thankful for the privilege and blessing of homeschooling!  (Remind me I said this on the hard days 😉  )

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I think it is safe to say this whole homeschooling thing has put a cramp in my blogging 🙂 But lest you think that is all that is keeping me from here, let me explain.

Football happened!  I tried to talk the boy into golfing.  It’s a nice non contact sport.  Can be played alone, no need for 21 other bodies to be around for a game to take place.  Not exactly cheap, but hey if you are willing to sweat through 2 shirts you can get on the course for a much lower price after 2 pm 😉  I even bought him new golf shoes for his birthday last Sept, of course he outgrew those already!  But no, football was his choice.

So a couple weeks ago he started. Practices are long, and six days a week!  Mmmhmm, 3-4 hours a day!  3-6:30, sometimes 7 and games.  He is technically an 8th grader on the JV team.  Size helps in this game, and luckily for him he has inherited his uncles genes! He’s almost 6′ tall, 170 lbs and wears a size 13 shoe!

This is one of those times I’m thankful the girls aren’t clamoring for a sport!  With traffic the drive is 25 mins to and from practice!  And we are one of those families that has made dinner together every night a priority up until this point.  We are learning how to be flexible and make our stomachs wait! 🙂

It is a sacrifice for the entire family.  The girls are now having to help more with dinner.  I typically get it prepped and planned but because of the drive to pick him up, they get it ready for the table.  That crockpot is getting a workout these days!  Nice to come home from the game and have dinner already made.

And just so you know, we ladies in the family are enjoying it too 🙂  I began watching football when hubs and I started dating back in the day!  I’ve even attended a few professional games with him.  Sundays are football days in our house, that means special food, decorations, clothing (well for him anyway!).  Now that their brother is playing, the girls are getting into it.  Okay, so snacks, umbrellas, and a soft seat help.  The rainbows we saw during last week’s games after the drenching rain shower were a plus too 😉  Let’s face it we are girls-you know glitter, rainbows, and unicorns or some variation of those girly things!  We cheer, we disagree with calls, we talk about how dirty their uniforms are, and what color uniforms we like best 🙂

As for Dad, well let’s just say he is enjoying this season of life with his son 😉

We couldn’t ask for better coaches, who focus on the right things in life-God, faith, family, keeping the boys safe and doing everything unto the Lord.  I’d never get away with assigning crab crawls as a consequence for not reading the Bible! 🙂 but Coach can!  I’m praying more for safety than I was before but more praying can never be a bad thing.

So that’s where I’ve been!  Sorry I haven’t been keeping up!  School is going well.  Nothing like a little external motivation to keep you on task!

And I realized that I didn’t explain how this homeschooled boy was participating in football.  Private schools can, and a lot of times do, allow homeschooled students to participate in extra curricular activities for a fee.  It is a win-win situation.  They get more players on their teams, we get the chance to have our students participate on a team sport.  So if you homeschool, check out your local private schools to see if they offer activities that your student can participate in.

Next I think I need to work on art classes for R 🙂  The wall murals will soon be completed, she’ll need a new place to create!

 

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I’m not sure who started the whole idea of school beginning before Labor Day but I’d like to talk to them.  I mean honestly as a homeschooler you would think I would be okay with this.  I require my children to read during the summer, do a math problem or two to keep it fresh in their minds.  I’m flexible and think learning doesn’t just happen within the four walls of a building, but summer is not over in August!

Alright for those of you in the north, it is the beginning of the end of summer 😉 but really this is perfect weather for so many things.  Apple picking, blueberry picking, walks in the woods.  All very educational events!  Why do we insist on starting school so early?

And the fact that this can vary so much state to state is crazy!  Those in FL can be finished by Memorial Day, while NH may be the 25th of June. NY doesn’t begin until after Labor Day but FL can start as early as Aug 9th!  What is the ulterior motive for administrators?  Is it just tradition or allowing for bad weather?  It certainly throws off vacations visiting family in other parts of the country.  My teacher sister won’t start for another 10 days or so.  Her family just finished their summer vacation to FL.  The day after they left my nephew began school here.  If we vacation before the end of June, it’s very likely family up north will still be in school.

Today we were suppose to begin.  We are late compared to most FL schools, they began last week and the week before.  We are early compared to NY, and right in line I believe with NH.  Tropical Storm Isaac decided to visit us this weekend.  Rainy, gloomy, dark weather makes me want to curl up in my sweats and read or watch a movie.  It made the public schools cancel due to flooding, tornado watches, and the like.  It made the football coach decide to take advantage of the time and call for extra practice 😉

So here I sit, having corrected algebra, division and handwriting but not at all motivated for anatomy, comprehension and grammar.  What was that?  Why is this day any different from any other you ask?  🙂  Well, normally I like science 😉

One of the benefits of homeschooling is we get to read so many great books together, curled up on the couch, enjoying the rainy weather.  So maybe it’s not so bad after all to start school today 🙂 Off to read The Journeyman.  Maybe we’ll fit in some anatomy and South American history too.

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One thing my kids miss out on by homeschooling is back to school shopping.  We do get school supplies but we don’t buy school clothes, get haircuts or prep majorly for school starting.  Mostly I think this is a benefit, at least for me! 🙂  But I fondly remember getting new sneakers, getting my hair cut, buying clothes all in preparation for that first day of school.

Okay, so the clothes were all too hot for the first day because inevitably it was not a cool autumn beginning to school but my mom, being the ultimate frugal mom, would buy us long sleeves and corduroys in preparation for the rapidly approaching winter.  And no one wanted to be seen in “old” clothes those first few days of school.  Save those for the second week 😉

But this year it just so happens that my middle two girls need haircuts.  It’s been almost 2 years since they have had a real cut.  I think they trimmed in there one time, but the goal was to grow it long.  It is now long!  And what do you do when you’ve achieved long? You cut it and donate it to Locks of Love 🙂

A couple weeks ago R checked the mail and came in with a flier promoting JCPenny’s free back to school haircuts!  She wanted to go, so we made appts and tomorrow they will get their first back to school haircuts at 11 and 9 years old!  🙂

So if you are like me and love a good deal, and think that just once in their homeschool years your children should experience a back-to-school traditional haircut, call your local JCPenny and your k-6th grader can get their haircut for free! 🙂  Or call this toll free number to schedule one near you 1-855-527-5437

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As I am desperately working on organizing the endless number of books that we have, I have time to ponder some thoughts.

The bookshelf is currently full!  I realized my children will each read or have read to them approximately 75 books this upcoming school year!  That’s a big number of books!  Yet they will also check out books from the library and read those too.  I think we will keep a log this year of all of the books we read.  I don’t typically do this, we know we read plenty so I just keep track of the school list and call it good.  I’m interested in knowing just how much we do read!  🙂

I also came across some old favorite resources.  I have had these packed away and waiting to be used again at the right time.  I had aspirations of using them with my younger two girls.  Funny how life happens and you find yourself pulled along by the current and fighting to find your way.  I think for a couple of years I lost sight of deliberately teaching a few things.  Life was teaching us lessons, lessons that needed to be learned, practical application if you will.  So my younger two girls will now learn in reverse 🙂  They have practical experience to draw upon, while my older two had the book learning first and the practical application second 🙂

First, 21 rules of this house, by Gregg Harris.  I loved this when my children were little.  I ordered the book complete with coloring pages.  We would sit down every morning, talk over the rule, they would color the page and I would ask them to recite the previous rules.  They would now say that was corny, but it was great when they were 2-8 years old!

Second, Searching for Treasure, by Marty Elwell. 20 weeks of daily Bible lessons for the entire family.  I loved the coloring pages at the beginning of each lesson with a verse.  This is perfect for them to color while you discuss the lesson and what it means.  You can use the verses for penmanship, memorization, or dictation too. Teaching our children the wisdom and character traits of proverbs, exactly what this world needs!

Then there is the Miller series of books.  These are a little less mainstream.  They are based around a Mennonite family’s lives.  The stories all have a meaning and are biblically based.  My children really enjoyed these stories, and they made me think throughout the day about how I was responding to my children.

And so many classic literary books.  I love a book with a lesson.  A book that makes you think about the character throughout the day.  A book that teaches you good character, wisdom, and life skills.  I find the older a book is the more value it has morally.  Today books are written to entertain, in the past books were written with more of a moral message.  Ralph Moody, Elizabeth Speare, Elizabeth Yates, Elizabeth Enright, Mildred Taylor, Eloise McGraw, Gary Paulsen, Irene Hunt, Lois Lenski, Jack London, Robert McCloskey,  just to name a few of our favorite authors 🙂

I really struggle with letting go of any of these books.  The stories are moving, timeless, filled with real life struggles, triumphs and tragedies.  Giving them to someone who will love and appreciate them as much as we do is the only thing that makes it easier.  My husband would say I’m crazy, but I don’t want a good story wasted on someone who won’t appreciate it.  I’m sure my fellow book lovers will understand!

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I’ve not fallen off the face of the earth, just moved 🙂  And I am really enjoying my back patio.  My hubby  hung our swing chairs and the view is of the pool.  I am struggling to resist sitting there with a book all day!  I must admit I succumbed to the temptation this afternoon.  After church and grocery shopping, and a quick swim, the swings were calling me too loudly to ignore.

I’m sorry.  I have thought of blogging but my mind goes blank when faced with the swing chairs or my computer screen.  I should take my laptop out there to the swing but inevitably when I go out my children all decide it is time for a swim.  And the splashing around begins!

I’m mostly unpacked.  I worked this week on organizing my school books for the upcoming year on the bookcase, making out orders for the items I still need, and deciding which books to finally part with.  I don’t have much trouble parting with beginning readers, but those tried and true fun chapter books that have carried us from the Far East to Alaska and back again are a bit tougher to let go.  My oldest actually looked at my pile and said, “You’re not getting rid of Homer Price are you? I loved that book!”  Umm, it was good when you were in 2nd grade, now maybe it is time to pass it along for someone else to enjoy 🙂

My hubby says we should just get rid of all of our books and use e-readers, he obviously is not a bibliovore!  I mean honestly, is it even possible to curl up with a kindle or nook and have that warm fuzzy feeling that your favorite book gives you?  I am resisting, resisting I tell you!  I will keep my bookcases full of books thank you very much.  Besides I don’t have to worry that the lighted screen is hurting my eyes, or the wireless signal is frying my brain from a book!  🙂  And I am terrible at remembering the names of books but I can almost always tell you by the cover if I have read it and what I thought of it.

Anyone else with me?  Just can’t give in to technology yet?  🙂

Don’t you just want to bring your book over and swing with me?  🙂

 

(Just to prove how much I am not into technology, I just spent 45 mins and called in two children to help me upload the photo of my swing!  The problem, I have over 20k photos on my computer and no available space for one more!! I guess this week I will be learning how to back them up to a hard drive and emptying my cache (??  is that the right word?)!  It really gives me hives just thinking about it!  My oldest daughter said she will download Mountain Lion so I can use Cloud!  Oh joy!  Lions, tiger, and bears oh my! 🙂

 

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Mount Washington

I personally love overnight trips.  Trips that don’t require a lot of preplanning, packing, preparation or $ 🙂  Throw an outfit in a bag, pack your toothbrush and bathing suit and away you go!  No major worries about keeping the kids occupied in the car, long drives, suitcases packed for each day of the trip.  Just your family and some fun.

For me and overnight is about getting away and enjoying your family.  We haven’t taken many vacations that were vacations for the sake of relaxing.  Vacations usually involve traveling to see extended family, which is great but not always relaxing.  Trying to fit in visits with everyone, splitting your time to try to be fair, usually upsetting someone, not getting great sleep.  A weekend away or an overnight eliminates all of that and allows me to just enjoy my family.

When we lived in NH we enjoyed visiting the White Mountains.  We loved to drive on the Kangamagus Highway and stop along the road at the many pull-offs to enjoy God’s creation.  Beautiful scenic overlooks, paths back into the woods where there were waterfalls, or “otter rocks” or “devil’s washbasin“.  (this link has amazing photos of even more beautiful places in NH) The power of water is very evident in those mountains.  Otter rocks is an area where the granite has been worn smooth from thousands of years of snow melts.  We visited there with friends and the kids had a fabulous time “sliding” on the rocks.  The water is ice cold!  Beautiful views, trees with roots wrapped around rocks holding on.  Absolutely amazing!  Definitely worth the drive and taking your camera 🙂  I lost some of those photos in a computer mishap, or I would gladly share them with you.  😦

Also in NH, Mount Washington.  The second highest peak on the East Coast, over 6000 ft above sea level. Home of the worst weather in the world!  A great lesson in science as you drive up the mountain and witness the changes in vegetation and temperature!  We have visited there multiple times.  The best time was in August, when the weather was perfectly clear and the temperature was 20 degrees different from bottom to top.  We have visited in Sept and not been able to travel all the way up due to snow on top!  We went another time in Sept when it was raining and the winds were 75 mph at the summit!  After the  8 mile drive up though, the ladies and children needed the rest room, so we linked arms held on to grandparents and children and braved the winds and clouds to enter the observation building.  The buildings are literally chained down!  It is the wildest thing to see.  They have wonderful pictures and statistics in the building as well and bathrooms, snacks and gift items.  A must see if you visit NH! 🙂

Another NH favorite is Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves.  Our children loved walking through these caves and hiking up the gorge.  I can’t describe how beautiful the mountains, trees and waterfalls are in this area of the country.  You stand in awe of God’s creation before you.  The massive granite boulders, the evidence of how incredible the flow of water is during spring thaws, and the gentle flow of the streams mid summer.  I could sit and look at these places for hours.  A photographers heaven!  🙂

The Flume Gorge is another must see!  It was discovered by a 93 year old woman when she was fishing in the early 1800’s.  They have built a stairway up so you can walk inside enjoying the view of the waterfall as you go.  Beautiful photos inside showing you the history of the flume.  This is a bit of uphill walking for those with health issues but your children will love it!  And sleep well that night 🙂  There is a letterbox here that adds to the fun.

And if you haven’t tried letterboxing or geocaching this is the place to do it!  NH has some very fun historical places on their list.  We enjoyed quite a few journeys to find a lost cemetery or homestead when we lived there.  One of our favorites near Hanover, NH was to a cemetery where Revolutionary war generals were buried alongside their slaves!  And further along the same road there was our infamous valleyquest to a 200 year old farm house foundation.  We went with friends in the fall and saw plenty of bear skat, which required lots of singing and noise making on our part!  Two moms + five children=an adventure! 🙂  At local bookstores and libraries you can find books filled with local letterboxing adventures.

I can’t end without mentioning a museum. I LOVE museums!  When we were in NH we absolutely loved visiting the Montshire Museum.  It is actually located in Norwich, VT, but is literally on the river that separates NH and VT so it is not far at all.  And worth crossing the bridge 🙂  Full of fun hands on science activities, it was a fun in all four seasons and especially on rainy days.

So plan a day, plan a weekend but get out and enjoy a fun filled day with your family this summer!  🙂  And please share fun local trips and hidden treasures in your area.

Mount Washington in winter!

Flume Gorge

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