Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Right Now

Celebrating the New Year in stripe PJs & Crocs


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Monday, December 30, 2013

2013

I'm sure I've mentioned before that the week between Christmas and New Year's is my favorite week of the year. I love the reflection and the planning. And being up in the mountains for quiet time and snow fun is pretty nice also. Right now Matt and Jack are on the slopes. Kate isn't feeling well, so she is watching a movie, and I have some free time on the couch in front of the fireplace. No complaints.

I've been pondering 2013 the last few days, and while at first glance, it may not seem like an extraordinary year, I think that I may eventually look back and realize that the decisions and discoveries of this year were fairly important in shaping my life. Maybe catalysts or preparation for bigger changes. Only time will tell, but here is what sticks out for me from the last year.

  1. Travel. We did a lot. Kids hit 14 states (15 for me!), some multiple times. I got to check off Michigan from my list of states visited (only 4 left - Oregon, Rhode Island, Delaware & South Carolina). While I thoroughly enjoyed some of the big travel (um, Hawaii... why did I come home?!), our adventures reinforced my belief in how much fun and contentment one can find in  less glamorous destinations.
  2. Homeschool. 2013 may be the only full calendar year that I homeschool both kids. Whether that ends up being the case or not, I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience learning so fully with my children. Together we have figured out how to overcome individual challenges, how we each learn differently, how to make learning a part of everyday life, how to learn together and independently, and what unique talents we each bring to life. To be so intimately involved in their education certainly requires a lot of effort (time, love, patience, energy, etc), but I wouldn't change it for anything.
  3. Relationships. I've been very aware of the ebb and flow of relationship in my life this year.  Some have have gone by the wayside while others have become more intense. Some purposeful, some a matter of circumstance. Some of the change is great, others not so much. Trying to pay attention to the deeper meaning for me of the comings and goings of those around me.
Now on to 2014!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

This Makes Me Happy

Cranberry sauce muffins straight from the oven.


With enough to take up to the mountains.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Right Now

Only place we could find a tree was Walmart...


But it was only $5!!
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Mixed Feelings


  • We are home from Hawaii after a full 2 weeks. I didn't want to leave, yet it is nice to be home. 
  • I slept for 12 hours last night! I needed it after over 15 hours of overnight travel and very little sleep, but I really was hoping to wake up early and go to the grocery store.
  • Then I woke up to snow. Definitely have mixed feelings about that fact.
  • I absolutely ignored "real life" while I was gone. (Look at that?!? Almost 300 unread emails - and that's just the unread ones!)
    If you emailed me or called me while I was gone, I probably haven't seen it yet. I feel bad about that. Sort of. Okay, not really. If it was important, email me back. Or text me. Or maybe just knock on my front door...
  • Our Christmas celebration is a bit condensed this year. No advent wreath! No advent calendar! No decorations up! And no advent wreath... no advent calendar... no decorations up (yet)... blah...
  • Excited to be spending Christmas Eve with one set of friends and Christmas Day with another. I don't have to cook! But I'm sad that won't be doing many of our feasting traditions this year.  Plus I'm feeling a bit more introverted than usual. Hope I'm at least decent company.
  • Going for a run today after almost 3 weeks of nothing.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Right Now

Barely holding it together during breakfast in Phoenix after red eye from Honolulu.
Missed our connection. Not such great luck catching planes this trip...

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

This Makes Me Happy

Amazingly happy!!

(Note: these are NOT compatible with bikinis)

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Then & Now

Almost 20 years ago...


Almost 20 lbs later...


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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Homeschool Moment

Hawaiian style.


Volcano National Park Junior Ranger work.

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Right Now

Sunrise


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Friday, December 06, 2013

Right Now

Feels like -37?!? Brrrr...


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Thursday, December 05, 2013

Jackism

This morning, Jack was walking around saying, "Douche! Douche! Douche!" I was sorta wondering about it, when he asked me, "Mom, what does 'douche' mean anyway?"

I gave him a general definition and warned him to be careful with the word because it can be considered derogatory to say that to someone. That it can mean dirty or gross.

"If it is sorta a bad word, then why do people say it after they make a slam dunk in basketball?" he asked.

It took me a moment. "You mean 'Swoosh'?" I asked.

"Not 'Douche'?"

"No, I'm pretty sure they don't say 'Douche!' It's definitely 'Swoosh!'"

"Oh, okay. I guess they do sound sorta the same"

And he walked away saying under his breath, "Swoosh! Swoosh! Swoosh!"

November Homeschool Review & December Plan

Overall - I read recently that November and February are difficult months for homeschoolers. Was so happy to hear that, because I've felt really blasé about homeschool the last several weeks. We've been sort of doing just the bare minimum. I haven't even felt like doing the fun history and science stuff!  There is NOT going to be a lot of formal homeschooling through the holidays due to travel, so hopefully we'll be motivated again come January.


Math - Feeling really good about Math. Don't want to burn out by mid-winter like last year, so plan to take it easy in December and keep mixing it up come January. I'm loving our multi-program approach. It is really making a difference. Kate, who usually likes to voice her distaste of math, has started saying that she can't wait to learn calculus! Crazy girl...
  • MathUSee - Gamma - Kate will finish lesson 28 this week, would really like to finish up the last 2 lessons & final tests before we start back after New Year's. Jack will finish Gamma lesson 8 this week and then break until after the holidays. Might throw in a few practice pages to keep us fresh.
  • Finished & reread (the 2nd reading by Matt) Life of Fred Butterflies, started Life of Fred Cats. Plan to finish Cats this weekend, and then Matt will again reread with kids. Then we'll start Life of Fred Dogs. Kids still loving this series. Need to decide if we are going to repeat all 4 books before moving on to the next 4 as recommended. Probably not since the first 4 are pretty easy.
  • Times Tales - going well, Kate knows her facts pretty well.  Jack is still practicing, and just needs to get a bit faster.
  • IXL, XtraMath, Khan Academy - nothing and that's fine
  • Teaching Textbooks 3 - thought about doing this in Hawaii, but decided no
  • NEW - started Math-It just this last week. So far, so good. But no convincing kids that this is a "game"
Language Arts - feeling pretty good about where we are with Language Arts, occasionally get worried about writing for Jack, but I know we'll get there
  • First Language Lessons Level 3 - will finish up with lesson 43 this week, will probably break until after holidays. *Might* do the letter writing lessons the week of New Years.
  • Writing With Ease 3 - currently at week 5, stopped before Thanksgiving because I was getting tired of it, will start again in January
  • Complete Techniques of Creative Writing online class for Kate - going great, Kate is completely independent with this work, hoping to do more classes with this teacher
  • Professor Grammar's Punctuation Packets workbook for Kate - 3-4 lessons/week - going well, a little too "worksheet" for me, but Kate doesn't seem to mind, and I feel better knowing she is getting the info/practice
  • Improve Reading & Writing Skills Workbook with Jack - did this for awhile, but then it started to feel like too much busy work. Taking a break from it for now. Might go back to some of it for dictation/writing practice.
  • Sequential Spelling for Kate (dropped to 2 lessons/week, might go back up), tutor's spelling list for Jack (4-5x/week)
  • Tutoring 2-3x/week for Jack - going really well
  • Sight Words app for Jack - doing 3-4x/week
  • Teach All Kids for letter reversals (Jack) and maybe more - doing 4 lesson booklets a week, happy with this
  • Start Grammarland (not The Sentence Family like I previously wrote) (plan to read while in Hawaii)
  • Increasing Fluency - for Jack, going really well, can really see improvement, will keep this up on travels and during holidays. Currently on Lesson 9.
  • Reading: 
    • The Story of Dr. Dolittle - both finished in conjunction with our Jane Goodall study since it was an inspiration to her as a child (I had planned to read it also and do a big discussion, but I haven't read it yet...),  
    • Dear America: A Journey to the New World - assigned book for Kate, finished over Thanksgiving
    • Tarzan of the Apes - both kids will listen to this on audiobook while traveling. We wanted to read it after learning that it inspired Jane Goodall.
    • Little Women over the holidays.  
    • Deconstructing Penguins - still want to start evolving our book discussions towards this model, but that hasn't happened... yet.
    • Kate is an insatiable reader. Tracking her "fun" reads on her Goodreads account. Jack has been devouring audiobooks, also tracked on his Goodreads account.
Science - want to do more
  • On hold with What's Physics All About as we haven't finished reading our books and experiments about forces, will move on after we finish our reading
  • Albert Einstein Study - nope, maybe later this winter
  • Brain Study - sort of, want to do more, probably in January
  • Chimpanzee/Jane Goodall Study - yes, but just books and DVDs. Enough.
  • Dolphin Study - originally was going to do this or sea turtles to prepare for our Hawaii trip. Decided to make Hawaii mostly just fun.
  • Volcano National Park - plan to do Junior Ranger program. Will probably pull out some of our volcano books before we go
  • A bunch of random science experiments/projects that I have sitting around (to be done over the holidays when we *aren't* homeschooling - hope to do a bunch between Christmas and New Years!)
History/Social Studies - I don't know what happened here. Maybe after so much history on our fall trip, we just needed a break.
  • History of the World - not one word this month
  • Old Testament Bible Stories - nada
  • Finish up some Pony Express studies - calling this good enough!
  • Thanksgiving/Mayflower/Pilgrims Study (just a few books/DVDs and mostly last week)
  • Independent study for Kate - she chose Cleopatra - Kate did a pretty job with this. She was supposed to present to her homeschool program class, but ended up with a fever that day. She was completely independent on this project with absolutely no guidance from me (pure laziness on my part!) but pulled together quite a nice report booklet. I think she may have plagiarized quite a bit from the internet, but that opened up a bit of discussion which is always a good thing.
  • Fort Larned National Historic Site - earned Junior Ranger badges (and saw the Santa Fe Trail)
  • Would like to go to the Pearl Harbor site in Honolulu then read more when we get back.
Misc - never enough time nor energy to get to everything we want to do
  • Apple 1:1 - nope. blah. Really want to get a few visits in with Kate for Pages
  • Vision Therapy for Jack - formal visits are done, will continue at home... maybe...
  • Testing for Jack (in December)
  • Swim Team 2-3x/week - great
  • Volleyball for Kate - great
  • Soccer for Jack - great
  • Skiing!! Just for fun over the holidays. Lessons won't start until January.
  • Couch to 5K - started really well, no going a bit slow with the weather. Goal is to get there by spring
  • Logic (misc workbooks, games, etc) - using mostly Teach All Kids the last few weeks
  • Keyboarding (Kate) - a bit slow, but Kate does it faithfully 2-3 times/week
  • Computer programming (Jack) - will wait until January
  • Playful Learning ecourse - did the Be A Peace Maker course. It was pretty good.
  • Baking for Kate - hmmm. Gotta get better at this. I really need to sit down and write out a *plan*
  • Family Meditation - eh. A little, not a lot. The kids seem to do better with guided meditation, so we are going to try more of that.
  • Daily Gratitude Journal - going GREAT (if not always daily!)
  • Travel: Texas for Thanksgiving (visited Perot Museum which was great) & Hawaii (Volcano NP, beaches, hikes, snorkeling, luau, fun!)
  • Field Trips - might fit one in this week (science museum? aquarium?)
  • Weekly Homeschool Program (where kids get art, science, technology, language arts, math and history)
  • NEW Thanksgiving themed Graphs/mazes/logic/hidden pictures/etc from EdHelper and Teach All Kids
  • NEW Knitting for Kate - a few weeks ago Kate decided she wanted to learn how to knit. I know some basics, so we used a few YouTube videos to get us going. My mom helped over Thanksgiving, and now she is doing great. I have bigger plans for this during or after the holidays.
SO to sum up the rest of December... (this is mostly reference for me!)
Hawaii Homeschool Plan 
  • Life of Fred Cats/Dogs
  • Grammarland
  • Gratitude Journal
  • Creative writing for Kate
  • Fluency Practice for Jack
  • Volcano National Park
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Tarzan audiobook
Holiday Homeschool Plan
  • Finish Gamma for Kate
  • Life of Fred Dogs
  • Gratitude Journal
  • Fluency Practice for Jack
  • Science Packets
  • Little Women
  • Finish Grammarland
  • Ski!
  • Maybe some formal homeschooling (like letter writing) or field trips depending on how we feel

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Right Now

With lots of snow this afternoon and temperatures barely making it to double digits, it was time to pull out the snowmen mugs and try the peppermint marshmallows in hot cocoa...


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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Thanksgiving Highlights

After we got safely to Texas, we had a good week and a nice Thanksgiving. The weather didn't cooperate with my plans to get out and do more, but time relaxing is never a bad thing. It was good to see my friend Ashlee and family, and to go to our friends' gumbo party (yum!). Matt flew down early Friday morning after he left the hospital and made the drive home with us.
Racing at the Perot Museum
Great Grandma with the beasts
Not Thanksgiving without candy turkeys!
Hike with the cousins
Decorating Giant Gingerbread Men
Waterpark on overnight stay in Oklahoma on the way home
On the Santa Fe Trail in Kansas
(There are supposed to be wagon tracks back there, but we
weren't really sure we identified them correctly...)
Fort Larned National Historic Site in Kansas
(this was pretty interesting!)
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Monday, December 02, 2013

Sunday, November 24, 2013

To Do

Last week was pretty good! Christmas stuff seemed to get back burnered, but I still have this week.
  1. Get a pedicure
  2. Go over Christmas card mailing list
  3. Order stamps for Christmas cards
  4. Make dentist appt
  5. Make carmel apples with kids (did melted caramel over sliced apples... will have to do...)
  6. Make orthodontist appt for Kate (and maybe Jack)
  7. Return a quilt pattern I borrowed from a friend
  8. Make banana muffins (how did this get left on the list? I'll consider it a freebie!)
  9. Figure out photo for Christmas cards
  10. Call bank about account issues
  11. Plan Thanksgiving road trip
  12. Call homeschool program about language class
  13. Library returns/pick up holds (holds are probably going to be gone when we get home)
  14. Finish Christmas tree ornaments
  15. Get good camera organized so I can take good photos over Thanksgiving
Okay, some of this just isn't going to happen this week because I'm not at home. Should still be able to get a decent amount done.
  1. Go over Christmas card mailing list
  2. Order stamps for Christmas cards
  3. Make dentist appt
  4. Make orthodontist appt for Kate (and maybe Jack)
  5. Return a quilt pattern I borrowed from a friend
  6. Figure out photo for Christmas cards
  7. Finish Christmas tree ornaments
  8. Take lots of family photos, especially with my grandma
  9. Flip through huge stack of old magazines
  10. Mall returns
  11. Review November homeschooling
  12. Clean out email inbox (whoa, it's out of control!!)
  13. Figure out/order stocking stuffers for kids/Matt
  14. Figure out last few extended family gifts.
  15. RELAX a bit!

Dad to the Rescue


Getting to Dallas to spend Thanksgiving with my family was a bit of a challenge this year. We had originally planned to leave Friday morning (we couldn't leave earlier because Matt's birthday was Thursday), but Colorado Spring got hit with an icy snow storm Thursday night/Friday morning. Decided to delay our travel by a day, but we saw that another big storm with expected ice was going to be moving through New Mexico/Oklahoma/Northern Texas by Sunday morning. I realized that Saturday was our only window of travel opportunity, and that I would have to do the entire drive in one day or we would be out of luck until mid-week! 

Our normal route through Raton, NM and Amarillo, TX is usually a 2 day trip for us. We had already planned to take a different route this trip through Kansas and Oklahoma (because Kate wanted to check Kansas off her list of states visited - my kids have already been to over half the states in the US!). I decided to stick to this plan as New Mexico weather/roads was already bad.  I woke up at 5am, and we were on the road by 6:30am with the plan to drive 13 hours all the way through (the longest drive I've done by myself with the kids in one day is 8-9 hours). I knew I'd be crazy tired but that it had to be done.

About an hour into our drive, my dad rescued me from a potentially miserable drive! He called and said he could fly into Wichita, KS, meet us and finish the drive. It worked out so well. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. He had been waiting at the Wichita airport for only 5 minutes when we pulled up to pick him up. He drove the rest of the way allowing me to relax and nap.

Thanks to my dad, I'm now cozy in front of the fire at my parents' house waiting for the ice and snow to arrive.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I Won!!

I was really in a funk yesterday, but then look what arrived to cheer me up...


All kinds of fun sewing goodies from KidGiddy plus a signed copy of her new book Sewing Tales.

Goodbye, Funk!

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Funny Baking Moment

Want to get this down so I don't forget!
(Isn't amazing how many things you think you won't forget about your kids, and then you do?!?)

Kate would kill me if she knew I was putting this out in a public forum. Hopefully by the time she is old enough to read this, she'll be fairly forgiving. Anyway...

Remember how Kate is supposed to be doing a baking "class" this fall for homeschool? Well, we haven't been doing such a good job. Actually *I* have not been doing a good job of formally teaching  her, but she has been baking quite a bit (with varying degrees of supervision). Today she wanted to make cookies, and I suggested that she use the Tollhouse recipe on the chocolate chip bag.

She mixed it all up on her own, asking me a few questions her and there. When she brought me a bit of batter to snack on, I thought it seemed a bit thin, but it's been so long since I've made that recipe, I didn't think much more about it.

Kate plopped spoonfuls on a cookie sheet, put them in the oven to bake, and sat down to watch a TV show with me. After 15 min she went to check on the cookies. It was one, big, melted, burned mess all over the cookie sheet (thank goodness we used a jelly pan with rims). I should have taken a picture of the disaster!

Ends up, there wasn't enough flour used. The recipe called for "2 1/4 cups flour" which Kate read to be 2 scoops with the 1/4 cup measuring cup. Only 1/2 a cup. I can see the misunderstanding. We added a bit more flour for the next batch. Turned out beautiful! Yum!

(It is NOT good for my waistline to have Kate baking so much! I can't resist the temptation of baked sweets...)

Homeschool Moment

Working on the floor while Kate is at French club this afternoon.


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Sunday, November 17, 2013

To Do

Last week's plan... not bad...
  1. Get a pedicure
  2. Go over Christmas card mailing list (need to sit down and do this while I watch a movie or something)
  3. Order stamps for Christmas cards
  4. Work on Christmas ornaments
  5. Make dentist appt
  6. Make carmel apples with kids
  7. Buy bulky yard for Kate's knitting project
  8. Make orthodontist appt for Kate (and maybe Jack)
  9. Return a quilt pattern I borrowed from a friend
  10. Make grandma's Christmas present (I purchased something so now I might not make anything)
  11. Schedule donation pick up
  12. Finish wrapping Christmas presents to be sent off 
  13. Call chicken sitter
  14. Make Chex Mix
  15. Make banana muffins (in the oven right now although I should be in bed!)
And the plan for this week...
  1. Get a pedicure (Going to do this Tuesday evening when the kids are at sports and Matt is working late)
  2. Go over Christmas card mailing list
  3. Order stamps for Christmas cards
  4. Make dentist appt (I might have to put this off... I think there are only 3 days between now and Christmas that I could actually go to the dentist)
  5. Make carmel apples with kids
  6. Make orthodontist appt for Kate (and maybe Jack)
  7. Return a quilt pattern I borrowed from a friend
  8. Make banana muffins
  9. Figure out photo for Christmas cards
  10. Call bank about account issues
  11. Plan Thanksgiving road trip
  12. Call homeschool program about language class
  13. Library returns/pick up holds
  14. Finish Christmas tree ornaments (hand stitching is all that's left... blah...)
  15. Get good camera organized so I can take good photos (not iPhone pics!) over Thanksgiving

Friday, November 15, 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013

To Do List

Did I get nothing accomplished last week?!? Apparently not...
  1. Pharmacy Pick Up
  2. Oil Change (and they found enough wrong that my poor vehicle is STILL in the shop...)
  3. Get a pedicure
  4. Sort box of books for donation
  5. Repot Christmas cactus (Finally! I've been meaning to do this for at least three years!!!)
  6. Go over Christmas card mailing list
  7. Order stamps for Christmas cards
  8. Work on Christmas ornaments
  9. Make dentist appt
  10. Make carmel apples with kids (purposely put off to this week)
  11. Buy bulky yard for Kate's knitting project
  12. Make orthodontist appt for Kate (and maybe Jack)
  13. Return a quilt pattern I borrowed from a friend
  14. Make grandma's Christmas present
  15. Schedule donation pick up (I'm going to blame this on the organization not calling me. They usually call every few days! Why did no one call me last week?!?)
My grand plan for this week... too similar to last week...
  1. Get a pedicure
  2. Go over Christmas card mailing list
  3. Order stamps for Christmas cards
  4. Work on Christmas ornaments
  5. Make dentist appt
  6. Make carmel apples with kids
  7. Buy bulky yard for Kate's knitting project (and her own knitting needles - she's really in to knitting!)
  8. Make orthodontist appt for Kate (and maybe Jack)
  9. Return a quilt pattern I borrowed from a friend
  10. Make grandma's Christmas present
  11. Schedule donation pick up
  12. Finish wrapping Christmas presents to be sent off (go ahead and be VERY impressed!)
  13. Call chicken sitter
  14. Make Chex Mix
  15. Make banana muffins

Monday, November 04, 2013

New Salem

Going through some photos and realized I forgot to post a few photos of our road trip stop in New Salem State Park in Illinois.  After a disappointing stop at the Lincoln Home NHS, this stop was great! And probably much more interesting for all of us, although no Junior Ranger Badges... It is the town where Lincoln lived for several years as a young man. Not long after Lincoln left, the town was deserted (people literally moved their homes), but back sometime in the early to mid 20th century, they excavated and rebuilt on the original foundations. It was pretty fun to walk around this recreated town. All the buildings were furnished, and we learned a lot about life during that time from the docents.


Loved this. Might make my own.
I think more people should abide by this saying.
Had to get a prairie hat!

Homeschool Moment

Learning to cast on


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Sunday, November 03, 2013

To Do List

The last time I did this was way back in August, and there are STILL things on this list that have not been done yet. Oh, dear.
  1. Hem drapes in master bedroom (this is really so low on the priority list that is is never going to happen)
  2. Freakin' get my master bedroom headboard upholstered (this is a 2 person job, so it probably isn't going to happen anytime soon either)
  3. Get email inbox down to reasonable size (<10) - done but backed up again
  4. Give book to a neighbor friend
  5. Mail package to my friend Nona
  6. Mail package to my friend Elizabeth
  7. Keep up with my online quilt class (so far behind now... ugh...)
  8. Look into horse riding lessons for Kate
  9. Contact piano teacher
  10. Costco returns
  11. Return/Check out library books
  12. Clean/organize desk
  13. Call chicken watcher
  14. Inventory freezer - ha! just done last week!
  15. Schedule donation pick up
Fresh start for this week:
  1. Pharmacy Pick Up
  2. Oil Change
  3. Get a pedicure
  4. Sort box of books for donation
  5. Repot Christmas cactus
  6. Go over Christmas card mailing list
  7. Order stamps for Christmas cards
  8. Work on Christmas ornaments
  9. Make dentist appt
  10. Make carmel apples with kids
  11. Buy bulky yard for Kate's knitting project
  12. Make orthodontist appt for Kate (and maybe Jack)
  13. Return a quilt pattern I borrowed from a friend
  14. Make grandma's Christmas present
  15. Schedule donation pick up (again)
(I know, I know. The Christmas theme on the To Do List is crazy, but I need to get everything done in the next few weeks. Our schedule is full, full, full starting with Thanksgiving.)

Homeschool Moment

Quick library stop to pick up holds.

I could never figure out why the library had such high loan limits until I started homeschooling.


Now it's not unusual for me to have 50+ items checked out at one time.

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Saturday, November 02, 2013

Obligatory Halloween Photo

of the kids in costume. Kate was Medusa & Jack was a Minecraft skeleton.


(although for trick or treating, Kate had a coat over her dress and Jack didn't wear his box head)

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November (December) Homeschool Plan


Since we have big travel planned in November and December (with minimal homeschooling) and will take a break from homeschooling over the holidays, I am viewing the next 6-8 weeks of homeschooling as one, big chunk. I'll probably still do a November review and December plan, but I want/need a rough guide for the next 6-8 weeks.
Math - My plan is to feel really good about where we are with math by the end of 2013.
  • MathUSee - Gamma - restart Kate at lesson 21 (and finish Gamma by the holidays), start Jack at lesson 1
  • Finish & reread (the 2nd reading is Matt's job!) Life of Fred Butterflies, maybe start Life of Fred Cats (kids just LOVE this series - would never use as a main math curriculum, but it is fantastic as a supplement. I sorta want to get to Trigonometry... maybe Fred will help me understand what I didn't in high school!)
  • Times Tales - continue Part 1 & Part 2 multiplication practice, especially Jack
  • IXL, XtraMath, Khan Academy - maybe if we feel like it or need something while we travel
  • Teaching Textbooks 3 - we did this last year when we all got weary of MathUSee. If Kate finishes up Gamma early, I might have her restart Teaching Textbooks as a review. Jack also if we need time between Gammas lessons to memorize multiplication tables
Language Arts - feeling really good about where we are with Language Arts
  • First Language Lessons Level 3 - continue to do 3-5 lessons/week
  • Writing With Ease 3 - continue to do 6-8 lessons/week (I was a bit iffy about this program when we first started it last year, but I'm can now see the benefits. I love the concept of being about to process your ideas mentally before writing down)
  • Complete Techniques of Creative Writing online class for Kate (feel so fortunate to have found San Diego Scribblers. Kate really enjoys writing, is independent with the work, and always chooses to do this work first - which I think says a lot. Writing is also not my homeschooling forte. I love having someone else running that show!)
  • Professor Grammar's Punctuation Packets workbook for Kate - 3-4 lessons/week
  • Improve Reading & Writing Skills Workbook with Jack - will work through at his pace
  • Sequential Spelling for Kate 3-4 lessons/week, tutor's spelling list and spelling in above workbook for Jack
  • Tutoring 2-3x/week for Jack
  • Sight Words app for Jack
  • Teach All Kids for letter reversals (Jack) and maybe more
  • Start The Sentence Family (maybe while traveling since it isn't a heavy textbook)
  • Assigned reading (Kate will read texts, Jack will listen to audiobook versions): not exactly sure yet, starting with The Story of Dr. Dolittle, then other ideas include Frindle, Little Women, maybe something related to Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hawaii. I want to start evolving our book discussions towards a model similar to that in Deconstructing Penguins
Science - having fun, hoping we do enough, want to maybe focus a bit more on the scientific method
  • Continue to work through What's Physics All About with additional resources from library - finish up forces and move on to energy
  • Albert Einstein Study (maybe)
  • Brain Study
  • Chimpanzee/Jane Goodall Study
  • Dolphin Study
  • A bunch of random science experiments/projects that I have sitting around (to be done over the holidays when we *aren't* homeschooling)
History/Social Studies - so much to learn, so easy to get side-tracked with a subject!
  • History of the World - keep reading. Maybe cut back some of the activities and just read
  • Old Testament Bible Stories
  • Finish up some Pony Express studies, maybe have Jack do a project of some kind
  • Thanksgiving/Mayflower/Pilgrims Study (just a bit)
  • Independent study for Kate - she is choosing Cleopatra - I've felt like Kate needs a little more lately. She can breeze through her regular work pretty quickly. Going to have her do some sort of project/report for us.
Misc - never enough time nor energy to get to everything we want to do
  • Apple 1:1 - goal to schedule 4 sessions by the end of 2013
  • Vision Therapy for Jack - formal visits are done, will continue at home
  • Testing for Jack (in December)
  • Swim Team 2-3x/week 
  • Volleyball for Kate
  • Soccer for Jack
  • Skiing!! Just for fun over the holidays. Lessons won't start until January.
  • Couch to 5K - work through it as we are able
  • Logic (misc workbooks, games, etc)
  • Keyboarding (Kate) - do each lesson 2-3 times before moving forward
  • Computer programming (Jack) - may start over holidays
  • Playful Learning ecourse
  • Baking for Kate
  • Family Meditation (using the Family Meditation Book which I've had for YEARS and not used yet. I think we'll also incorporate picture books on mediation/peace/life lessons/etc. with our mediation time. Would like to eventually incorporate character building with meditation time also.)
  • Daily Gratitude Journal
  • Travel: Texas for Thanksgiving (Heard Museum? Perot Museum? Fossil Rim? Dinosaur State Park? Heritage Village? not sure what we'll get to; had planned to go to Arkansas this trip, but rethinking that) & Hawaii (Volcano NP, beaches, hikes, snorkeling, luau, fun!)
  • Field Trips: would like to do 3-4 more in 2013
  • Weekly Homeschool Program (where kids get art, science, technology, language arts, math and history)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Homeschool Plan - Review

Math - I feel like I can't quite find our sweet spot for math, although we are getting close.
  • Math U See - Finished Beta, will start Gamma next week
  • Finished and Reread Life of Fred Apples and started Life of Fred Butterflies as planned
  • Times Tales - both kids are pretty proficient at both Part 1 & 2
  • More Math supplements - Khan academy, IXL, XtraMath - Didn't really use these this month
  • ADDITIONAL - worked a lot on counting change. Both kids love setting up a pretend store and working with the money
Language Arts
  • First Language Lessons Level 3 - done through lesson 25
  • Writing With Ease - finished level 2
  • Completed online poetry class and started Techniques of Creative Writing class for Kate as planned
  • Improve Reading & Writing Skills Workbook with Jack - taking this slow & steady
  • Sequential Spelling for Kate as planned, Jack gets spelling through tutor and above workbook
  • Tutoring for Jack as planned
  • Sight Words app for Jack - as planned but could do more
  • Assigned Reading: My Brother Abe (Kate) and Mr. Klutz is Nutz(Jack) then A Long Way From Chicago (both kids) - Chicago ended up being a bit of a frustrating book for Kate to read. She is such an avid reader, that I took her opinion to heart and let her stop. Jack completed the audiobook
  • Start The Sentence Family - didn't happen...
Science
  • Slowly work through What's Physics All About with additional resources from library - this has been fun, lots of books & videos from the library on Physics/Forces, lots of little experiments
  • Start Weather Lab - nope
  • Brain Study - nope
  • Praying Mantis Study - yup!

History/Social Studies
  • Continued study of Lincoln, Lewis & Clark, Chicago/Great Fire, Ulysses S. Grant, Midwest, Great Lakes - all done while traveling. Loved it.
  • Old Testament Bible Stories - nope
  • Pony Express Study - we've done some reading, have some more reading to do, Jack has been doing some activities in an activity book he got at the Pony Express Station in Gothenburg, NE, and we watched Peter Lundy and the Medicine Hat Stallion (kids loved it!)
Misc
  • Apple 1:1 - nope
  • Vision Therapy (Jack) - been pretty good, need to vary it up
  • Swim Team 2-3x/week - as planned
  • Logic (misc workbooks, games, etc) - some, not a lot
  • Keyboarding (Kate) - started, doing each lesson 2-3 times before moving forward
  • Computer programming (Jack) - have not started, might wait until after the holidays
  • Playful Learning ecourses - did Be A Peacemaker ecourse with handouts, waiting on some books from the library to finish up (Mom wasn't prepared!)
  • Baking - a little with Kate, ordered some beginner baking cookbooks to help us organize learning
  • Family Meditation - nope
  • Piano Lessons - nope
  • Horseback Riding Lessons (Kate) - nope
  • Road Trip: Chicago (Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science & Industry, Water Tower, Willis Tower, Lincoln Park Zoo, Grant Park, Millenium Park), Michigan (apple picking, cider mill, beach), Iowa, Nebraska (Omaha zoo, pony express station, sod house) YUP!! 
  • Field Trips: Boo at the Zoo, Homeschool Halloween Party
  • Weekly Homeschool Program as planned
  • ADDED: Couch 2 5K running program, volleyball for Kate, soccer for Jack

Right Now

It's sorta become our tradition to go get pumpkins and carve them the afternoon of Halloween (any earlier and the squirrels eat them!)


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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Right Now

Wishing I could curl up in a pajama drawer...


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Monday, October 28, 2013

Chicago Highlights

We spent 6 days in Chicago. Rainy weather and our need for some downtime kept us from some sites. We'll just have to go back. I wish we could do a week every year...

Somehow I didn't do a very good job of documenting our trip with photos. No photos of the Shedd Aquarium nor the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Buckingham Fountain at Grant Park 
The Bean
Willis Tower
(aka Sears Tower)
The platform thingies were pretty cool
Sue at the Field Museum
(we did not do justice to the Field Museum...
just too much to see in one visit)
Driving a submarine at the
Museum of Science & Industry
Watching chicks hatch
(we also barely scraped the surface of the
Museum of Science & Industry. Wish we
could go once a month!)
Kate & I could have spent all day watching chicks hatch!
We kept going back over and over and over...
Watertower. Only building to survive Chicago Fire

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Omaha Zoo

I had heard that the Omaha Zoo was top notch and definitely wanted to stop on our road trip. And although I knew it was supposed to be a great zoo, I sorta thought, "How good could it really be?" Isn't a good zoo, a good zoo? I was very mistaken. I was blown away by how great the Omaha Zoo was. Will definitely go back. Maybe meet friends from Minneapolis half way for a weekend?

The photos really don't do it justice! I loved how they "layered" animals. Often different species of animals in the same enclosure. The indoor rain forest was amazing - with bat colonies flying/roosting all over. And the nocturnal exhibit (which was too dark for photos) was really, really cool, especially the swamp exhibit with beavers and alligators.
See the wallaby up there? Often it felt like
the animals were not in enclosures
Gotta get the gorilla videos on YouTube to share 
We loved, loved, loved the rain forest!
Call the zookeeper! The monkeys have escaped!
(my poor kids hear the joke every time we go to a zoo...
never gets old - for me!)

The aquarium was great, although we went through quickly
since we had just been to the Shedd in Chicago
On the Skyfari (aka skyfart) ride
(pretty goofy by this point in the trip!)
Jack was DYING to go to the animated dinos,
but once we got there was too scared to go
through! They were pretty realistic...