Having fun on our Week Off

Last week we were off and we kept busy.  We started off the week with Geocaching. Something we got into about 2 years ago. It’s a great free go-to activity to get out of the house. I also like how it introduces the kids to reading coordinates and tracking distance. They love to watch the map and see how many feet are left until we reach the cache.

Lilly found this one first!

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We did 2 more caches, one being at the local Fish Hatchery. After finding it, we headed inside to take a look around. They had some really neat things inside, and the nice lady at the counter showed the kids what fish eggs look like.

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We also did a small science experiment. We are wrapping up our unit on solids, liquids, and gases, but before moving on we decided to show that states of matter can change and then change again.

We added a few drops of food coloring to water using our Lego trays, popped them in the freezer and recorded the changes, then we let it sit on the counter to see it change back into liquid. They all really enjoyed this and could tell back what was happening using big Science words 🙂

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Our normal weeks look pretty similar, with some Math and Language Art books thrown in too!


We all have weaknesses… knowing yours and improving

My son is eight. If you believe in the theory of left-right brain, he would be labeled a definite ‘lefty’. I don’t really like labels, and prefer to just think in terms of weaknesses and strengths and improving those. Labels seem harder to overcome once someone puts you in that box.

Here lately, I’ve been thinking about a few of his and one has caught my attention the most: he has trouble being creative. I’m not technically ‘worried’, but I do want to to help him in this area.

He loves Legos, but not in the traditional sense, he can’t stand creating on his own. If you’ve seen the Lego Movie, he’s the guy that wants to super glue all the parts together 🙂 He follows the instruction books to a T, then puts his finished product on the shelf, which looks cool and I’m glad he enjoys it, but every now and then, it would be nice to see him creating something from his imagination.

When we are doing something for school and he needs to create a sentence, yes, just one little sentence, he seems to be struggling. He just wants someone to tell him what to write. He doesn’t even like to try.

So, a weakness my amazing son has is creative thinking. He has plenty of strengths (and I won’t list them now), but to better ourselves we need to work on weaknesses.

To help him with this, I have bought a journal and 4 days a week we will do some creative writing. I hope this will help, and will post back later and update how it is going in a few weeks.

It may be a struggle for him at first, but I’m hoping he will start to enjoy writing and enjoy expressing himself and his thoughts.

Everyone has weaknesses. Some may not be fixable, others may take a lot of time and effort to change. I am just hoping to open him to the world of creative writing and maybe it will trickle down to other things he does as well.


No Workbook Wednesdays

5 days of school was starting to become a drag. It seemed like we needed a mid-week relaxed day. Instead of taking the entire day off, we came up with another solution: No Workbook Wednesdays.

Now, when I first mentioned this to the kids they were pretty upset (they don’t like to part with their Math book!)…. just kidding!  They LOVED the idea, (a little too much maybe).

We all had a ton of fun and we like the idea of unschooling, but we also like the idea of our kids not getting behind and challenging them. I feel like they wouldn’t be challenged as much if we just left the learning up to our regular day. So, yes, we have workbooks for Math, Spelling/Reading, and Language Arts.

Here is a small clip of what the day is like and how we still manage to learn and experience a lot.

Sometimes the Timing is Just [OFF]

I was thinking last night how we, as parents, introduce our kids to new things

thinking it will be exciting or helpful in some way, only to find out, they resist it, don’t like it, or just don’t care.

When they react negatively a lot of us think, ‘well it’s just not for my kid’ and move on, figuring ‘oh, well, I tried and they didn’t like it’. Maybe you’re right, but what if you’re not.

Maybe it is for your kid. Maybe they will love it. Maybe your timing is just off.

If you introduce them to something new and you really believe they would naturally enjoy it, but for some reason don’t, maybe put it away for a bit and reintroduce it at a later time.

Perhaps they need to mature more. Or they need to be able to read better without being frustrated. Maybe they need to learn more patience.

Whatever it may be that’s holding them back, they just aren’t there yet, but don’t give up on them.

Think about why they say they don’t like it. Talk to them about it. Maybe they are scared, nervous, or need more confidence. As parents we are there to support them and mentor them along the way. This isn’t just about academics, it’s about everything in life.

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Example #1 
When we first got Miquon for Math. I didn’t understand it, so it was hard for me to communicate to my kids what to do. It was frustrating. I put it away and got another Math book. After a few months, we got bored and then I decided to give it another shot. I dove in and did the page myself to make sure I knew what to do before having them try it. What a difference. The timing was off for us before hand, but a few months later it turned out great. Now, we love the books and I recommended them to everyone. And, yes, I tell them it’s hard to understand at first. If we would have given up before, I’m not sure what we would be doing right now for Math, but I do know our Math now is amazing and our kids are excelling because of these books.
Example #2
I bought the game What’s Gru? when they weren’t that great at spelling or reading. They hated the game. I mean hated it. So I put it up. 2 months ago we got it back out. They had a ton of fun because they could actually play it without being frustrated. They had built up better spelling skills and confidence before I reintroduced it to them.
Example #3
We bought my son a Razor electric scooter for Christmas when he was five. I thought he’d love it and zip around everywhere…. nope. For the first year and a half, I drove him around on it. He was scared, and he really couldn’t handle it that well. I almost got rid of it, but we kept it in the garage, and when he was 6 1/2, he decided he could do it. He got out there and rode that thing like a champ! He loves it!

Timing is crucial. Don’t give up because they say “no” or aren’t into it at that moment.

Try again later.

If they still hate it, then maybe it’s time to move on. But ask yourself if they are truly ready for what you want them to do. Don’t set them up to fail.


4 weeks in and already changes

Things always look good on paper. In fact, if we all lived in a world where we wrote down our goals, to-dos, etc and then it magically happened liked we planned.. the world would be much different. However, paper is just paper. Ideas, thoughts, and goals are all good, and should be written down, but it’s not black and white. Things happen. People change. Interests change, sometimes overnight. And we all have to learn to go with the flow. Pick up the pieces. Let go, and move on. Yet stay positive and find the good in all.

I could sit here complaining about how things haven’t worked out like I had them written down a few weeks ago, but instead I’ll move forward, and think of the good that has come too.

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I had our perfect year planned. We were going to start (and did start) July 7th, after a 2 week break. Everything started off great. I had all the curriculum that I wanted to use. I was excited to jump right in. But after that 1st week things already began changing and I realized my yearly plan was about to be rewritten.

History is awesome. I didn’t always think so either, homeschooling actually brought a new found love of the subject to me. I look forward to relearning history with our kids. For this year I had decided to use Story of the World, Book 1. We actually started back in May with this book. It’s really interesting and in depth, but I also had another book I wanted to use, A Child’s History of the World. We were using both of these, side-by-side.

But it became to much, even after finding this website that breaks down the chapters that coincide with each other.

So I decided to put down Story of the World, and just read through A Child’s History of the World first, then start jumping into all the SOTW books.  Change #1

I also was printing off a page for the kids to see what they needed to do each day, but it seemed like things always went unchecked, or something added, after I had printed it off. Now I am going to just try and keep a mental tab on what we do and how much time it takes (in MO we must have 1000 hours of instruction). They liked checking things off the list, and we may go back to something similar later, but for now we will stick with my general plan that I type out (and can edit at any time).  Change #2

All in all, the first 3 weeks were really fun and we all grew and learned a lot. Our break week went amazing, even getting in some reading time and a few board games throughout.

When things just don’t feel right, don’t be afraid to change them, or alter them in some way. It will never be a perfect system. It’s doesn’t mean you’re failing, it means you’re growing. When we grow, we change. Our likes, dislikes, the way we do things, or don’t do things. It’s life. Embrace it, and move forward.

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No [school room] here

Yes, we homeschool. No, we don’t have a schoolroom (insert ‘gasp’ from readers here!)

Let me start over. I started homeschooling a little over a year ago, when I pulled my Kindergartener out of PS (He cried every morning and didn’t want to go, so I figured, I’m home, I’ll try it out. I felt terrible sending him somewhere he didn’t want to be.)

In the beginning, we had a small table and I decided to do a ‘rotate through the stations’ idea. A math station, science, sandbox, history, art, etc…. it was kinda neat for a Kindergartener, but for me, it was stressful… trying to think of something super fun all the time. I got burnt out and we did away with that after about a month.

We finally moved and had a huge extra room, so I thought yes a school room! I even bought both kids a desk like you would find in school, off Amazon. At first they enjoyed the desks. We had the walls decorated, a computer set up, and a huge whiteboard for me to ‘teach’ them lessons.  (This is hard for me to recall, I mean ‘What was I thinking?’…. I took them out of school only to recreate my own school!)

After another month or 2 of that nonsense, I took down everything on the walls, did away with the whiteboard, and moved their desks into their rooms, so they could still use them if they wanted (My daughter uses hers for art projects, my son hasn’t looked at his for months).


It felt so good to be rid of all that ‘school’ stuff, even for me.

We started doing our Math on on giant rug in the mornings, then read on the couch, and do Science and History wherever we like also. We were free to use any part of the house we wanted, and the outdoors.

I like having my extra room back in the house also, we actually turned it into a screen room (TV and computer), and now we have a den, quiet room, sitting room, whichever you want to call it. It’s amazing not having a TV in the main room of the house, I love it.  We haven’t had cable in 3 years anyhow, so it made no sense to have it there anyway, since it’s hardly used.

Conclusion:  To homeschool, you don’t need a special room. You need to do what is comfortable and inviting for you and your kids. I was dreading the school room also, so it just made sense to get rid of it. Homeschooling is about flexibility and creating a love of learning, I try to tell myself this every morning so we can start the day off right.

Last Day of School, Full of Surprises :)

2013-2014 has come to a close.  The kids had a great year, it was our first FULL year of homeschooling. A success, and ready for next year. The kids are getting 2 weeks off, and they are excited to play with their friends whenever they like.

Today, we decided to have a day of surprises for them and end with a bang!

Surprise #1:  Donuts!


Surprise #2:  A 2 hour Art Workshop (Turner opted not to participate, but Lilly had a fantastic time!)


Surprise #3:  Lunch at one of their favorite Japanese Steakhouses (the ones with the fire!)



Surprise #4:  Jason and I had printed out Diplomas to make it more official. They loved them and kept saying all day they have graduated and get to move up!


Surprise #5:  No school work!  They took the afternoon to build.  Lilly built a spaceship, and Turner a Limo.



Surprise #6:  Later tonight they are going swimming with their friends and we’re getting ice cream!

My kids don’t know who Bach is

My kids are your typical everyday kids. They get grumpy if you wake them up too early, they watch movies, play with their friends, learn new things, and even whine to try and get their way.  They are six and seven.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing your kids to others, and even easier when it comes to homeschooling and what everyone else is doing.  I’ve been victim to this. I let myself get pulled in after reading another blog where so and so was learning 2 languages that year and doing a unit on famous composers.  I thought, “Wow, my kids need to get going and not get behind.” So I started researching what I would teach them. Then reality hit. My kids are six and seven, they don’t need to know who Bach is right now. They have their entire lives ahead of them.

So I stopped researching. We enjoy learning a ton of things around here, but you won’t catch me trying to cram information about Mozart to my six year old (unless she asks). We do listen to classical music in the car though 🙂

It’s fun to read blogs and see what others are up to, but don’t get too caught up in it. You can’t teach your child everything!  You don’t know everything, no one knows everything.  And even if you cover the Great Depression, who knows how much they will remember in a few years. Everyone has GAPS in their education and knowledge, you have to decide what is important to you (and your state mandates) then go from there to decide what to teach your kids (and maybe ask them what they want to learn about).

So, if you ask my daughter or son who Bach is right now, they won’t have a clue.  Give them a few years and ask again.

However, Turner can talk your ear off about BMX, car makes and engines, Minecraft and Legos. Lilly can go on about ballet terms and knows more facts about animals than I probably do!

What about your kids?  What are they really interested in right now?

Labels and goals

In previous posts I have labeled us as 1/3 Un-Schoolers, 1/3 Classical, and 1/3 Charlotte Mason, but why did I do that?  Doesn’t that just put us in a box?  Can we stray from the box or are we stuck in there forever….?   Let me answer:  I did that so I can relate to readers and help us with goal setting, HOWEVER, we are not stuck in the box, we don’t have a list of what to do each day marked down to the hour, and we can change our minds whenever we feel like we should.  So can any of you.

I am a firm believer in doing what is best for your child’s education, that’s why we homeschool. 

We are not fans of government ran mini-prisions for our kids, however, I understand some kids have no choice.  When my child was in public school I kept thinking of all the negative around him and how no one there, not even his teacher, cares for him as much as I do.  I am the one who understands his strengths and weaknesses best, who can cater to his needs.  It’s not the teachers fault, its the entire school system.  I don’t blame the over-worked teacher who has WAY TOO MANY kids in his/her class.  Most teachers do their best, and that’s all most parents can ask, but I’m not one of them, and I decided that I could tackle homeschooling.

The only thing that really matters is whether your family is happy. 

Labeling our homeschool is beneficial in setting goals for our kids.  It creates a philosophy so we all understand what we are striving for each day.  We are striving to be happy, life-long learners of life and academics. We are striving for our kids to see the importance and the fun in reading great books. We are striving for them to appreciate nature and the beauty it holds, and how we all need to make sure to keep it that way. We are striving for them to want to learn. We are striving for them to understand that it’s okay to not know the answer, but it’s important to be able to figure out how to find the resources to get the answer. We are striving to raise good-hearted people.

I’m sure pretty much everyone would agree on our goals, no matter what homeschool style they fit into, but how we get there is different.  That’s where your philosophy comes into play.  You may be wanting to study bees, but your kids wants to know about dog breeds….. do you go ahead with what you want, or listen to your kids and their interest at that time and go with theirs (saving Bees for another day).  And when you decide on a subject how do you approach it….living books, lap books, field trips?  Those are all different ways, all good in their own way, but depending on your philosophy it may be different than other people.

What is your philosophy on homeschooling and your goals?

Children are amazing and can do amazing things if you open your heart and mind and give them room to flourish. 

How ’bout them apples…Famous homeschoolers

I love to refer this list to those people who aren’t so sure about homeschooling a.k.a. family members. It’s funny how once I spout off a few names they tend to quiet up 🙂

For a more complete list go here, but below are a few of my favorite go-to people:

Albert Einstein

-Alexander Graham Bell

Benjamin Franklin

-Charlotte Mason  (we follow some of her methods in our home)

-Elizabeth Blackwell  (1st woman doctor)

-Leonardo Da Vinci

-Thomas Edison

Thomas Jefferson

Tim Tebow  (homeschool graduate)

Robert Frost    “I still say the only education worth anything is self-education.”

-a ton of actors and musicians

I don’t know about you, but after reading this list and the rest of them over here, it gives you a sense of peace knowing that these amazing people were all homeschooled and managed to become successful in their lives. Follow your heart.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference.”
by Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”