Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Right Now

Celebrating the New Year in stripe PJs & Crocs

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Monday, December 30, 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


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Friday, December 06, 2013

Right Now

Feels like -37?!? Brrrr...

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Thursday, December 05, 2013


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