Tag Archives: homeschooling

Feeling Good

I could break into song and sing Nina Simone but that may drive the few of you that read my dribble away. 😉

Today is the warmest it has been in some time and amazing how a few rays of sunshine can lift spirits. I know the dreaded polar vortex seeks to make a return tonight but I am going to enjoy the moment for now that the thermometer reads above 40 degrees. I am not anti-cold or winter but let’s just say I was born in the summer and love running through the grass barefoot. I do know that the seasons are necessary and provide a nice rest for the ground and this won’t last forever but I must say these artic blasts have been a doozy.

Despite the frigid temperatures, the show must go on and that includes heading out of the house. Last week we braved the chill for another round of 4-H Microsoft classes. These classes have been informative to the kids but also to me. I am excited about the skills they have picked up and I am thinking of how to incorporate them into their schooling. Thinking a video montage of their work as an end of the year project. 🙂

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Switching gears, I am 2 weeks and counting in terms of being gluten free. I feel so much better (hence the post title). I am reading more labels and my kids are helping and making me laugh through the process. Last week we went to the feed supply store for some chicken goodies and my son wanted some Starburst. I purchased 2 packs and he gave one to his sis. The rest of the convo went like this:

Son: “mom, what flavor would you like?”
Me: “thanks but I am not interested”
Daughter: “you know she isn’t eating gluten”
(Both furiously reading the wrapper)
Daughter/son (in unison): “mom these are gluten free”
Me: “that is good to know but I still don’t want any”

They are reading more labels now as well.  Hubby is also being supportive – he promptly ate most of the gluten free snickerdoodles that I made.  If you follow me on Instagram you will see some of the yumminess that I have been making.  I made brownies on Saturday and they didn’t even make it to Sunday evening so I must whip up another batch of those like stat!  You will also see the gluten free goodies that didn’t make the cut.

I so enjoy Pinterest and bloggers that share their gluten free recipes….huge thanks to all of you!  My favorite right now is Gluten Free Canteen.  I like Lisa’s baking style and her momma’s brownies are just super duper amazing!!!

Wishing you and yours a great Monday and that we will all look forward to Thursday when the weather patterns are due to change and become more seasonable.

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The Week That Was

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Wow, the first week of the year was a busy one!!!!  So busy in fact, all the planned blog posts fell into the polar vortex that was a big part of last week.  We literally dove right in to the week with an out of the house activity everyday.  So, yes, even on those frigid days – we left the house.  This is far from typical – on average we do leave the house 3 days out of the week .  So, what were we doing, you might ask…….let me tell you.

Monday – our speech club resumed from holiday break.  So, we schooled in the morning and then speech club for the afternoon.  I teach the juniors and being our second semester – we gently introduce them to speech categories like extemporaneous and apologetics.  We also delve into debate as the semester continues.  For many, this is their first introduction to these categories, so we aren’t hard and fast with the rules like NCFCA is for the competitors.

Tuesday – this was a c-o-l-d day but piano practice beckoned.  I dropped the kids off and did some grocery shopping since I was already out of the house.  Returning home and sitting in front of the fire was a treat.

Wednesday – this is our co-op day.  We started our winter session so that meant new classes.  I am teaching a math class based on Math Counts and I still have the little ones for PE/Health.  I knew that I wasn’t scheduled for anything for our 3rd hour so I thought it was nap free time.  This is one of the reasons reading is important boys and girls….once I finally read the entire class schedule, I realized I was scheduled for Moms in Prayer.  I had no idea what this was but went off to meet up with the 2 other moms.  God knows what we need and this hour spend in prayer for our children, the children of the other moms, our co-op, and others was truly a blessing.  I am excited that this session, I can stand in the gap with the other moms. (If you have never heard of this group, it is international, click the link to learn more.  We adapted it for homeschool purposes)

Thursday – this was our first meeting day for our 4-H Trailblazers club.  It is a homeschool club and we are excited about the opportunities ahead.  There were a few other new members that were welcomed and the installation of new officers.  The kids participated in a geospatial teach back done by the older kids and engaged in planning for this year.  I continue to pray that this will be a nice fit for our family.

Friday – we headed off to the Microsoft store for another class via the 4-H program.  It was a movie making class and the kids had a great time.  They allowed them to take the Surface tablets and go around the store and take pics or video and they used MovieMaker to edit the movie, add special effects, music and more.  All of the kids did a great job and were given flash drives to put their movies on and take home.  We played ours on the tv for hubby when we returned home.  He was amazed at what they had done.  🙂
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Whew!  The weekend had more to-do items and Friday night included dropping off/picking up the Princess at a birthday party.  All in all, I am thankful and grateful for the opportunities, safe traveling mercies and the relationships that were nurtured during the course of the week.  Hopefully, I can adjust to our new schedule quickly and develop a nice rhythm for our family.

I’ve also been reading up more on my thyroid condition – more to come on that later.

Happy Monday!!!

Homeschooling – The Mid Year Review

January marks that mid year point in our homeschooling journey where we take a moment to look back and see what is working, what hasn’t worked, what can be tweaked, and what needs to be tossed out the window.  This is our 7th year and trust me, there have been lots of evaluations and things changed mid-stream.  So, during my most recent look back, I was once again amazed at what God showed me about what we are doing and what we should be doing.

Bible/Character

We started this school year using the KONOS Obedience unit study for Bible and Character.  We thoroughly enjoyed it and when we were nearing completion, I wondered what we were going to use next.  I decided to continue with KONOS and purchased Volume II on Ebay.  We are going to start with Responsibility because honestly, I see some holes in that area.  The holes exist not only in schoolwork but also in other areas of their lives.  If they don’t learn responsibility they will be irresponsible and frankly, there are more than enough irresponsible folks in the world, so I don’t need to add two more.  😉  As a part of learning responsibility, I will create charts on the skills that we want them to learn and gauge whether how well they are doing them until they can do them proficiently.

Math

The funny thing about homeschooling is that homeschoolers often say that one of the reasons that we chose homeschooling is because we realize all children are different and learn in different ways.  Now what is funnier than that – when we forget that and continue with a curriculum/program with another child because it was such a good fit with another child.  Yes, my son and daughter have been using the same math curriculum and quite frankly, it was working for both of them for awhile.  Now my son hit a bump in the program – knew how to do the problems but just wasn’t interested.  He was going through the motions and being that my  husband and I (& others) feel he is gifted in math, I didn’t want his flame to burn out.  He & I had a chat and he indicated that he would like to do math on his own.  After my initial shock, I delved further and told him I would think about it.  A few days later, while at the local thrift store aka homeschooler hang out area (seriously ran into 2 families that day), God gave me the epiphany that I was trying to ram my square peg (son) into a round hole (the math program).  This epiphany came after son figured out the cost of an item dealing with percentages (it was a sale day) rather quickly and could it explain it so well that the other mom asked me what I was doing with him for math and I had to admit that he likes to go off on Khan Academy and tinker around with things beyond his grade level.  Hubby and I have decided that since he is ahead of his grade level in math that we are going to let him try his hand at using Khan Academy for his math program.  I am listed as his coach so I will assign him work with a due date and he will be responsible for completing it.  We shall see how this works out for him and for me.

Surprisingly, our other items are remaining the same and the kids have given them the thumbs up.  We are adding in 4-H which should prove interesting.  It is a homeschool club so the kids know most of the kids in the program but we will see how it fits into our schedule and lives.

The not so surprising part is that this week being the first week of the year means that we will be out of the day everyday because of one of the activities that they are involved in – it is all good stuff but let’s just say that I will be tickled pink when Friday evening arrives.

So, what has your mid year review revealed?

Introducing Kids to Coding

If you are on any social media platforms, you may have seen the hashtag #hourofcode being used this week. In honor of Computer Science Education Week, folks like Mark Zuckerberg of FB and others were encouraging children (and adults) to delve into coding, if only for an hour. Let’s face it, an hour doesn’t seem long especially if at the end of it you have completed something that you had never done before. As of this writing, according to their website, almost 15 million people have done some coding this week.

Many schools signed up to participate, but as a homeschooler, I wanted in on the action as well. As regular users of Khan Academy, I was pleasantly surprised when in my inbox there was a notice of their hour of code offerings. Wanting to make this happen during Computer Science Education Week meant that I had to readjust a day of school and Mother Nature helped with that by providing snow on Tuesday. So during our snowy Tuesday, the kiddos sat down to try their hand at coding. The iPad still proved a bit tricky with Khan Academy, so the kids did some pair programming until that was no longer fun and then one decided to just watch until they could do their own thing.

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Yes, a snow day equals wild natural hair on the Princess. 😉

Both of the kids completed the assignments and it was delightful to hear them problem solving out loud especially when one of them had a snowman with a floating head until he reconfigured the settings. This first taste of coding was well received by both kiddos so we signed up for more at Code. They have a 20 hour program with different levels of activities and yes adults can do it as well. Once that is completed, there are additional activities as well. Oh, have I mentioned that everything that I have shared is FREE! Yep, you read that right.

If you and your kids still want more coding experience, check out the following:

How and Why to Teach Your Kids to Code
Code Academy

And, if for some reason you think your little Prince or Princess is too young to learn coding, check out this article about a 12 year old app developer.

To complete our Computer Science Education Week, our local 4H club was hosting a fun day of learning at the Microsoft store. I must admit, I didn’t know Microsoft had a store. 😳. Along with others, the kids were able to learn all about Windows 8 and Office 2013 for wait for it…..FREE. Some of the parents also participated and after the learning took place, the kids were allowed to play on the Xbox units set up in the store. We all even left with Microsoft swag….woot woot!

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All in all, we had a good week and the kids were exposed to technology in ways beyond their normal interactions. We will keep working on coding as both have expressed an interest and with the plethora of free resources available, there really are no plausible excuses. Since you are reading this it is obvious that you are somewhat tech savvy. If you have a tablet or a smart phone and you have kids, you have probably noticed that they interact it with it easier than you do. There are great articles out there about ‘digital natives’ that are worth reading. I share all of this to say, it is obvious that technology is here to stay and prevalent in our lives and the lives of our children. Instead of allowing our children to just be consumers of technology we need to empower them to be producers.

Ch-ch-changes

Fall is in the air and there is change all around us.

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This year a change came about in our homeschooling – we joined a co-op. The timing was right and the group is a nice fit being that we knew a few of the families from other homeschool functions. So far, things are going well. The kids are taking a math enrichment class, PE, and Apologia Human Anatomy & Physiology. I teach PE to the K-3 and a spelling class for this first term. The PE is interesting in that I forgot how it is to keep little ones entertained. 😉

Of course, joining this co-op has made our schedule change. Piano already occupied Tuesday afternoons and speech club takes up every other Monday and now co-op is Wednesday afternoons weekly. Did I mention that Wednesday evenings are AWANA? Yes, a tight timeframe exists when we arrive home from co-op before we are out the door heading to AWANA. Pre-planning meals for Monday through Wednesday helps me keep my sanity.

I remember Deb Bell saying at the last Real Refreshment Retreat, that co-ops are a good way to motivate the often unmotivated and I must say there is some truth in it. :-). The Princess has responded well to the co-op environment. She is finding herself and my prayer is that God will help me in this process as we seek to raise a godly young lady.

So, what changes are happening in your neck of the woods?

Cold Weather Workout Blues

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Since kids and homeschooling, I have always struggled with consistently working out. I’ll admit, I have some good genes but as I have gotten older, I have realized that it is important for health reasons not just aesthetic reasons. Over the summer, I was on a nice routine, rising early (mornings are dreaded by me), working out on the treadmill and using this 7 app. While working out, I would listen to Dr. Tony Evans on One Place. Things were good. September came and things were still good. I felt better prepared for my day as I had been “filled” during my workout. Next thing you know, fall comes and I fell off the wagon.

The morning darkness, the colder temperatures, the comfiness of my bed have all combined to be an insurmountable obstacle. The treadmill, my 7 app, and Dr. Tony Evans have been dropped like hot potatoes. And the result, has not been pretty – I have picked up a few pounds, I am not as patient during school and I feel as though things are off kilter. I need to right this ship quickly! The sad thing is knowing it and doing it are two very different things.

So, I ask of those that are committed to working out and live in climates where the morning chill makes you want to dive deeper into the blankets, how do you find the motivation to get up and get going?

I know the workouts don’t have to happen in the morning but quite frankly, once I am up, there is no workout time in the rest of my day and plus the workout time serves a dual purpose – physically and spiritually.

Thanks for any tips!

A Time of Real Refreshment

Over the weekend, I was blessed to attend the Real Refreshment homeschool mom’s retreat in Baltimore. This event is sponsored by Apologia, yes the makers of some awesome curricula, BUT it is not about hawking their wares – it is about equipping moms with the spiritual tools needed for homeschooling. Women travel from Massachusetts, New York, West Virginia, there was even a lady I met from South Dakota to attend this retreat as they are primarily held in Baltimore and Atlanta. Knowing of the large contingent of Christian homeschoolers just in the Maryland, DC, Virginia area, I am surprised that the event is not bursting at the seams. In the end, the women that were present were the women that God intended to be there and being one of them, I can say it was fantastic!

This is my second year attending and when I went last year, I was in a desperate place. I have homeschooled from the beginning but some things were not working with my then 3rd and 4th graders. Despite realizing that they weren’t working there was a part of me holding on to these not working items for.dear.life. Just like a kid trying to put a square peg in a round hole, I was forcing myself and my kids to suffer through some bad times. There was little to no joy in our homeschool and momma was m-i-s-e-r-a-b-l-e and we all know that old saying……suffice it to say, things weren’t pretty. When I read about the retreat, I quickly sent hubby an email, saying momma needs to go to this and he so quickly responded with “yes, please register”. Yes, he was desperate as well for some change. On the first day of the retreat, the truths shared shed light into the dark places and just broke me down. On the second day, the truths served to build me back up but in a better way and when I left, I was free of some of those things that had me shackled. Hallelujah!!

Fast forward to this year and I was in a different place. I wasn’t desperate and at my wit’s end. I had seen how God had been changing me over the past year but I knew I wasn’t where He would have me to be. I didn’t know what to expect this year but I expected to be changed, in a good way. I arrived Friday morning, bright-eyed and bushy tailed for the Nuts & Bolts section. I sat with some amazing women and bumped into a friend from the previous year. For the break-out sessions, I listened to Debra Bell. I absolutely adore this woman. She is so practical and shares insights that always speak to me. Her planners revolutionized things in our house after the last retreat. :). By the time evening rolled around for our main sessions, I was amped even though I knew there was going to be a time of soul searching and probably tears. At least this year, they included packets of tissues in the goody bag. I was right, the prayer session did lead to tears and became a serious point of reflection for me. As I drove home, I was deep in thought about a lot of things not just homeschool related but also friendships with other women related due to a talk by Deb Bell.

Saturday was another day full of God’s new mercies and grace and as I kissed hubby goodbye (kids were at my parents) and headed back to the retreat, I was ready for more. Saturday’s speakers didn’t disappoint! However, the last speaker, Heidi St. John, really cut to the core about the state of Christianity and how easily some of us are being deceived. I know not exactly homeschool related but it was in that as moms we are shepherdesses of the next generation. Not only our own children, but even their friends. We must always be on guard to the ways of the devil because he is out to kill, steal and destroy our marriages, our children, our families, and more. She showed a beautiful painting of a shepherdess and her sheep and the image really hit home for me.

At the end of those two days, I came home renewed, refreshed, and reinvigorated. It was a blessed time and I look forward to next year. If you are a homeschooling mom, I encourage you to seek out this retreat or another because we all need to be poured into so that we can continue pouring out.