Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Something on your October calendar that makes you smile?

Florida. Florida. Florida. Florida. Florida. Florida. Florida. Florida. Florida. 9 glorious days of Florida starting October 4th.

Food for the soul or music for the soul ... which camp are you in? Tell us why.

If coffee counts as food then I would say food. Because, coffee.

What are two or three things you've learned recently as a result of an online search?

The proper winter care for newly transplanted hydrangea root balls/plants; which Tieks flats I want to splurge on with my Christmas money this year; and, the cat characters that are in the various Warriors series of books by Erin Hunter (for my 10 year old).

Share your favorite game day recipe. You can describe it, post the how-to, or add a link to the actual recipe.

Just plain old chili with hot dogs and/or frito chili pie. Just basic and simple.

What are your five essential steps for creating the perfect morning routine?

Wake up two hours before anyone else gets up; have my coffee brewed and waiting for me when I crawl out of bed; do my morning Bible study/devotional/journaling and then computer time; exercise; shower and get ready for the day.

What small thing have you taken note of today?

Sometimes a little extra sleep is more important than those five essential things above and more important than getting every single thing crossed off our planner.

Sum up your September in seven words or less.

Back to (home)school with a bang!

Insert your own random thought here.

Our weather is going to be sunny and in the 60's the rest of this week. I am almost going to be sad to leave this perfect weather and go south to the warmer temps in Florida .... almost.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook

For today ... Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Outside my window ... it is a beautiful fall morning, cool and crisp with sunshine sparkling on the dew on the leaves.

I am thinking ... that this is going to be an inside pj day all day. We have been going, going, going. Eli was sick for a few days, still coughing his head off, and I am not feeling good today. Tomorrow is our super busy day of the week, I mean ridiculously, super busy. And I just need a day of quiet. I'm not even going to get out and exercise today.

I am thankful ... for the freedoms of homeschooling.

I am wearing ... green Missouri "Home" t-shirt and striped Victoria Secret pj bottoms.

I am creating ... piles of things to take on our trip to Florida.

I am going ... back to bed for a while. I will finish this Daybook later. (And I did. I got up at 7:30 a.m., went back to bed at 7:45 and slept until 10:00. And I still feel cruddy.)

I am wondering ... how much we are actually going to get accomplished today.

I am reading ... All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

I am hoping ... to catch up on some new fall t.v. tonight.

I am learning ... to listen to my body when it is weary.

In my garden ... we are getting ready to dig up my sweet potatoes. I have peeked and there appear to be some big ones!! Hope they taste yummy!

In my kitchen ... are ingredients for chicken and dumplings that we are having for dinner tonight.

In the homeschool room ... we finished the first book in the Narnia series. Brynne says she wishes she knew all of what we have read before she watched "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe". It makes it all make so much more sense.

A favorite quote for today ... 

A peek into one of my days ... A day at the Kansas City Zoo's "Run for the Orangutans".

One of my favorite things ...

From the board room ... I'm making my dad his favorite cake for his birthday on Friday with the help of The Pioneer Woman.

Post Script ... When Our Time is Not our Own by Quill and Camera

Friday, September 25, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ The Hard Things, The Fun Things, and Why Homeschooling Really is Superior

I have got quite an opinion about homeschooling. I think a home education is superior to a public school education. There are a lot of reasons why I feel this way, and I will cover some of those reasons this week.

We started out our week with a visit from Aunt Julie and Uncle Milton (Rick's sister and her husband of 30 years .. Happy Anniversary!!). So Monday and Tuesday's schoolwork consisted of family time, board games (a new WWII era game called "Memoir '44"), educational video games (see below), a historical movie (see below), and reading. We still accumulated some school hours, although not as many as a regular school day, but more importantly we accumulated some valuable family time. If the kids were in public school they would have missed out on time with some of their favorite people.

The Hard Topics

Do you let your kids study the hard topics?

World War II has some pretty tough stuff for us to learn. I do not believe we should water down the truth of history. If we don't understand our history, how can we move forward? This week we learned about Hitler's SS officers and then watched "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas". At the end of it we all just sat in stunned silence.

I got to thinking ... if one of the kids would have come home from public school and told me they had watched this movie, would I have been upset as a parent? Probably. It's a heavy topic! So why was it okay for us to watch it at home but it wouldn't have been okay for my kids to watch it at school? As a family we sat together and discussed the role of Hitler and his SS officers. We discussed the discrimination against the "lesser classes". We paused the movie to make sure everyone was understanding what was really happening. We experienced the tragedy of the holocaust instead of just popping in a movie for kids to watch. (I have seen that scenario played out many times in public school. The lesson is the movie. I am not saying every teacher does that. But I see it done more often than not.) This won't be the last time we talk about this topic. It will be woven into the rest of our studies about Hitler and his role in WWII. The next morning Brynne shared with me how disturbed she was about the movie while going to sleep. We were able to discuss it, because I had watched it with her and knew exactly the emotions she was experiencing.

The kids need to understand just how evil Hitler was, and that there is still that kind of evil in our world today. With an upcoming presidential election, they need to understand the importance of wisely electing individuals who will govern our nation.

I am sorry, but studying this at home for our entire school year is far superior to studying it in public school for a day or two and then moving onto another topic so it can be crossed off our list. World War II was the major turning point for our nation. It can't be properly covered in a few days, and I do not believe a public school can properly manage the emotional side of educating a room full of children.

The Fun Things

Another reason why homeschooling is superior is that kids are still allowed to have some fun. We try to do interest-led learning whenever we can fit it into our schedule.

Right now Brynne is taking a Minecraft class called This Amazing World. She is learning about the Grand Canyon, The Northern Lights, The Great Barrier Reef, and other amazing places in our world. Eli isn't as much into Minecraft as he is into Roller Coaster Tycoon 3. Since Brynne puts in about 6-8 hours a week on her Minecraft class, I told Eli that we would develop a lesson plan for him to use his RCT program. For six weeks he will learn lessons about force, motion, gravity, kinetic and potential energy and more. He will study Sir Isaac Newton. And he will, in fact, build some rad coasters.

These lessons are fun! And they are worth the time, because it amazes me what they are actually learning, the problem solving and designing skills they have acquired. They don't have Minecraft or Roller Coaster Tycoon as classes at our elementary school. How about yours?

Sick Days

On Thursday Eli was feeling sickly. It started out as allergies and turned into a rotten cold. He spent his day in the comfy chair with a blanket, green tea, and eucalyptus being diffused next to him. He ate homemade chicken and noodles, apples, and carrots. He rested even though he was doing school work. He was able to put in a full day. If he was in public school, I would have either sent him to school with a virus that he would have passed on to other kids (not only that but he would not have learned a thing that day, or several days thereafter, because he felt so cruddy), or I would have had to keep him home from school. Homeschooling is superior in that he was able to do his school work and rest.

Today, however, he woke up with a mild fever and a stomach ache. His cold was still bad. We just had to call off school for the day. Sure we can continue to do schoolwork when we are feeling under the weather. But, I am not cruel enough to make someone think when they are running a fever. We had plans to do some catching up today, because I always leave Friday open for that and for interest-led learning. Instead we will just push off our assignments until Monday. Again, homeschooling is superior in that I do not have to follow an administration's schedule for my classroom.


Other than watching the movie earlier in the week, we didn't get to anything else in our WWII studies. We had plans to do a little introductory lesson about German Uboats and density, read about the Blitzkrieg, gas masks, bomb shelters and evacuations, and do an incendiary bomb activity. Those will be pushed off until Monday.

The Victory Garden

Each week at our enrichment class, after reading our chapters, I try to present one WWII activity and one gardening activity. This week the kids in our class mapped the Allied, Axis, and Neutral countries.

Then for gardening we learned about the nutritional value of egg shells in a garden. I have been saving egg shells for quite some time, so I let each of the kids take a turn at chopping them in the Ninja and then we went out and spread the powdered egg shells throughout the garden. We inspected the growth from our planted seeds (there is some growth), and did some watering.

Then we came back inside and made eggshell heads. The kids drew faces on their eggshells, filled them with soil and grass seed, and watered them. This week they are to observe the growth of their eggshell person's "hair" and do some creative writing about their eggshell person. It was suggested that they keep a diary from the perspective of their eggshell person, chart the hair growth, or just write a short story.

Other Happenings

Volleyball is at the center of our focus right now as Brynne is now into her season. She has greatly improved since last year. In fact, on Monday she was a beast on the court. She played so solid and even served the winning points. She kind of got a big head after that game and learned a valuable lesson in falling off the pedestal upon which we place ourselves. Last night's game was, let's just say, a humbling experience for her. But we discussed it and, I think, she is ready to get back in there are work hard.

From the Kitchen

While our family was visiting I made the most amazing quiche!! Instead of using a store-bought crust, I made this homemade one (super easy, flaky, and delicious!). To our quiche I added chopped mini portabella mushrooms, mini colored peppers, fresh garlic chives from the garden, and turmeric. We devoured it! It is definitely something I will make again!

The Upcoming Weekend

We are excited for tomorrow! Several months ago we registered for a 4-mile run (me) and a 1-mile fun run (Rick, me, Eli, and Brynne) at the Kansas City Zoo in the "Run for the Orangutans". After the runs we are served a hot breakfast and then get the opportunity to stay at the zoo as part of our race participation fee. I haven't been to the Kansas City Zoo since I was in the 1st grade, so I am very excited. Today we used a printable from the education tab on the zoo website and had the kids research an animal of their choice. We will look for their chosen animals while at the zoo. We will also be attending the "Wings of Wonder" show as part of our Further Up and Further In (The Chronicles of Narnia) unit study.

(It's not looking overly promising that we will get to go to our run and zoo day. Eli is feeling somewhat better this afternoon, but I don't know if he will be well enough for a full day out and about tomorrow. I don't want to go alone to run, and the real purpose of the trip was the free zoo admission after the races. If we can't be there together as a family, then I don't want to go.)

The Basics

In grammar we completed IEW's Fix-it GrammarThe Nose Tree! (Next week we will move onto the second level using the story of Robin Hood); we learned spelling words that are antonyms; math had us subtracting fractions with unlike denominators and then simplifying, but at a more difficult level; in writing we worked on writing a basic paragraph (We are using JacKris Publishing's Soaring with Spelling and Winning with Writing); we read several more pages in The Miracle Worker and read passages out of McGuffey's Fourth Eclectic Reader; and, we watched CNN Student News every day.

2015-2016 Hours Logged - 120 1/4 hours out of 1,000 required hours (13 hours outside home)
Plus 167 Summer Hours


We are linking up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Mary at Homegrown Learners.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

What have you 'fallen for' recently?

Fall boots. I have bought 3 new pair in the past several weeks. Now if the temps will just cool down so I can wear them!!!

What's something you're 'squirreling away' for later?

Pizza coupons. When you buy a pizza from Casey's you get a tear-off coupon on the box. When you collect 10 coupons you get a free large pizza. We hardly ever buy pizza so it takes us forever. But my mom cleans our town's City Hall and the policemen throw their pizza boxes away without keeping the coupons. She takes them for me when she takes out their trash. That helps us get free pizzas faster!

How do you like your apples? Sweet? Tart? Crisp? Cooked? Apples are one of the superfoods for fall ... how often do you eat an apple either plain or as part of a favorite recipe? What's your favorite variety?

I like a nice, crisp apple, dipped in either homemade fruit dip (cream cheese, brown sugar, vanilla) or dipped in almond butter. My favorite recipe is my mom's apple salad. We have it a couple of times a year. I like pretty much any kind of apple, but only Granny Smith if it is baked in something. It's too tart for me.

According to Fodor's the ten best fall foliage trips in the US of A are ... Aspen Colorado, The Catskills New York, The Berkshires Massachusetts, Columbia River Gorge Oregon, Green Mountain Byway Vermont, Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway New Mexico, Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, Upper Peninsula Michigan, Lake of the Ozarks Missouri, and Glacier National Park Montana. Which would you most like to visit this fall and why?

I have been through the Ozarks many times in the fall, especially around Branson, Missouri, because we live in Missouri. And it is, in fact, beautiful. I would love to visit the Great Smoky Mountains and also go on a cruise up the east coast in the fall.

The topic of legalizing marijuana was raised in the most recent televised political debate so let's wade in, too. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some form. Four states have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Your thoughts?

I think I am for legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. I am just not there, though, with legalizing it for recreational purposes. I already can't stand to be around someone who smokes cigarettes. I don't want myself or my kids to be around marijuana smoke beyond our control.

Are you okay to watch a movie already in progress, or to jump into the middle of a TV series, or must you see it from the beginning?

I can probably jump into a TV series in the middle, depending on the series. If it's a comedy sitcom, then yes. Like The Big Bang Theory .. I didn't watch it until several seasons in. I have watched previous seasons on reruns. If it's a drama with an ongoing storyline, then I need to start at the beginning. For instance, I could start watching a crime detective show in the middle (such as Criminal Minds) but I need to watch an ongoing series from the beginning (like Once Upon a Time ... Brynne and I started watching it from the beginning on Netflix). If it's a movie, I need to watch it from the beginning.

Thursday (September 24) is National Punctuation Day. What rule of punctuation trips you up most often? What rules of punctuation, when broken by someone else, bugs you the most?

I am a comma freak and am sure I use commas more often than necessary. It, likewise, drives me crazy when others overuse commas or use them in inappropriate ways.

Insert your own random thought here.

Happy First Day of Fall! Here is my favorite place to hang out this time of year ... my porch swing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook

For today ... Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Outside my window ... the house is looking great! Rick worked hard on Saturday and Sunday almost finishing the trim painting, and I worked to clean things up (knocking down massive amounts of cobwebs, lots of sweeping, etc.). We even planted some of the peony roots from my grandma's peonies that were transplanted to my mom and dad's, and some tulip bulbs. Things look fresh and new and pretty!

I am thinking ... about how behind I am on everything. We had a fabulous visit from Rick's sister Julie and her husband Milton, but it did, in fact, get us a bit behind. That's okay, we'll get caught up.

I am thankful ... for the time spent with Julie and Milton. It was their first time visiting our home here in Missouri, and I think their visits will now be more regular. We had fun playing board games and just sitting around talking. They also got to go see Brynne play volleyball, which meant a lot to her.

I am wearing ... grey yoga capris (funny story, this is the second time I have noticed after running that I have them on inside out), a yellow workout shirt, black zip up hoodie, and my Brooks running shoes.

I am creating ... a fall landscape around the house. I love this time of year!

I am going ... to sleep really good tonight! Rick and I gave up our bed to Julie and Milton for the two nights they were here because we do not have a spare bedroom. I slept in Eli's bottom bunk with the two dogs and Rick slept on the couch. Although I gladly gave up my bed for guests, I will be so happy to be back in it tonight!

I am wondering ... if we will even get to go to a pumpkin patch this year. We cannot find one that looks good, and our favorite won't be opening this year. Boo!

I am reading ... All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

I am hoping ... for a good 4 mile run at the Kansas City Zoo Run on Saturday. I have never run 4 miles straight before. I am doing a practice run on Thursday. My goal is to just run the whole thing without having to stop and walk. I think I can do it.

I am learning ... how to play our new board game Memoir '44 so that I can teach the kids. As is with Days of Wonder games, the instructions are so confusing! But once we worked out some scenarios, it became clearer what we are supposed to do. It is going to be a fun game! It's a very strategic WWII game.

In my garden ... were a few fresh raspberries this week! I ate them right off the vine, and they were so sweet!

In my kitchen ... are dirty cereal bowls because that is what we had for dinner tonight!

In the homeschool room ... we watched a movie with a difficult topic, and the kids voluntarily worked over their regular daily stopping time doing some schoolwork they enjoy. More on that with our Weekly Wrap-up on Friday.

A favorite quote for today ... 

A peek into one of my days ... A fun family evening watching Brynne KILL IT at her volleyball game, going out to dinner, then coming back home for a family game of Ticket to Ride.

One of my favorite things ...

My porch swing ... yep!

From the board room ... I can totally do these Twine Pumpkins. How cute!

Post Script ... Carson Will Not Apologize for Muslim Remark. Ben Carson for President.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Flying Through our Days

Holy Exhaustion! Yep, we're in the full swing of homeschooling and life around here! Whew!

We are doing some great work. I am just astounded at how much both Eli and Brynne have matured in their approach to their schoolwork this year. I look at them several times a day in awe at how independent and responsible they have become.

Constitution Day

Did you know that it is now a federal law that if you are a governmentally funded educational facility that you HAVE TO present a "program" about the constitution on Constitution Day? That pesky government.

As an educator, I don't like being told what I have to do. But, I do enjoy doing what I get to do. On the heels of the second Republican Debate on Wednesday night, I threw together some impromptu lessons on the Constitution to study on Thursday (because a reminder of that day is, in fact, something worth doing), and it was a hit!

We started out with our beloved CNN Student News because we knew Carl would be talking about it. That segued right into watching Schoolhouse Rock's "The Preamble" and then, "Hey, wasn't the last episode from Liberty's Kids on the writing of the Constitution?" So, we watched it, too.

I found three great lessons for us to do:

This American Symbols worksheet was fun. Some of the information they remembered from watching National Treasure.

Filling in the blanks of the Preamble had us searching our dictionary for the meanings of a couple of words.

We ended our time with a Close Reading of an article about the Constitution and it's parts and purposes. This was a great FREE activity pack purchased from TeachersPayTeachers. And daddy even led this activity, so it was extra special. (Love having him home to get him involved!)

I think by the end of the day the kids had an even greater understanding of our Constitution. And, they learned how to pronounce executive, legislative, and judicial correctly. Wish you could have been here for some of those funny moments!

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew


Aslan created Narnia this week, and with it the plants and trees. We did a little reading about "The World of Plants" from our Fun with Learning text I picked up at a garage sale for 50 cents. (Good little addition to our library, as it turns out.) We also watched a fascinating, although long, video on Youtube called "What Plants Talk About". The answer? Apparently quite a bit. Very cool.

While watching the video the kids chose four flowers created in Narnia to draw and write about in their Science notebooks. This had them researching on their devices, which is a new skill we are really working on this year.


We went back to Fun with Learning and read about the Earth's atmosphere, then watched a short clip from Bill Nye.

The kids completed a paper diagram on the topic and then made an atmosphere in a jar.


It was all about airplanes this week. We are gearing up for our next trip to Pensacola, when we will make another trip to the National Naval Aviation Museum. This time we will be honing in on any aircrafts, carriers, and subs that would have been used in World War II.

The kids did some cool computer activities on "How Things Fly". They learned about Forces of Flight and created their own airplanes to maximize thrust and minimize drag. They learned about wind flow and speed and its effect on airplanes.

Then they took to making some paper airplanes and experimenting on them with different levels of drag and changes to the center of gravity.

We ended our week with popcorn and The Wind Rises.

The Victory Garden

At our hosted enrichment class this week, we planted our fall garden and then took some time learning about war bonds.

Other Happenings

We got to hear our grandbaby's heartbeat for the first time yesterday! It was a special occasion as both sets of grandparents were present. Seeing your own baby's heartbeat or watching someone else's is really cool. But there is nothing like seeing and hearing the heartbeat of the baby that is growing inside the womb of your own daughter. Baby Werths is progressing nicely. He/she had a strong heartbeat and should be arriving the first of May 2016. Kyndal is feeling great, and is now very relieved to know that she is only carrying one baby!

Brynne's sports have kicked into high gear now that she has started volleyball games. She has also added in a Wednesday afternoon pitching clinic. The girl is always so busy!

From the Kitchen

A favorite around here, for the adults anyway, is Bubble Up King Ranch Chicken. I follow the recipe exactly except I puree the Rotel so that there aren't any "chunks" in the casserole. Even my older kids don't like tomato chunks. It's kind of spicy, but it is so good!

The Upcoming Weekend

Rick and I have plans to do some more painting on the exterior of our house. I am also hoping to get it power washed. Brynne has a birthday sleepover on Saturday night, and I have another birthday party to attend on Saturday afternoon. Rick's sister and our brother-in-law are coming for a visit on Sunday evening staying until Tuesday morning. We are just planning on doing some hanging out, playing games, and they are going to attend Brynne's volleyball game.

The Basics

Basics were done every day. In grammar we completed four more days of lessons from IEW's Fix-it GrammarThe Nose Tree; we learned spelling words that are synonyms; math had us subtracting fractions with unlike denominators and then simplifying; in writing we worked on paragraphs and staying on topic (We are using JacKris Publishing's Soaring with Spelling and Winning with Writing); we read several more pages in The Miracle Worker and read passages out of McGuffey's Fourth Eclectic Reader; and, we watched CNN Student News every day.

2015-2016 Hours Logged - 97 1/2 hours (9 hours outside home)
Plus 167 Summer Hours


We are linking up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Mary at Homegrown Learners.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook

For today ... Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Outside my window ... an Amish buggy and large trailer just went by loaded down with pumpkins for the auction this afternoon. I'm not quite ready to put out pumpkins yet. Mums, yes. But I want to wait a couple more weeks for pumpkins.

I am thinking ... about how I wish I could just go back to bed. I am tired and already feeling cranky today.

I am thankful ... for fall weather, scents, and colors.

I am wearing ... black Jockey yoga capris, a workout tank, and my Brooks. I am going to walk to the park and then run the mile loop once. Maybe that will help my mood.

I am creating ... a glorious NOTHING! (Well, other than weekly lesson plans for school.) Sometimes I get worn down from all the big creating events.

I am going ... to be taking the kids on a little side trip to Atlanta while we are in Pensacola next month. We are going to stay at the Omni Hotel and tour the CNN Headquarters. We will be marking two things off the kids' bucket list.

I am wondering ... about next year's curriculum, already! I like to have a plan early so that I can start looking for good deals.

I am reading ... I am impatiently waiting for Rick to get here on Thursday with my next pile of books from the library (he transports books back and forth from the awesome Tulsa City-County Library system for us). I finished Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline yesterday and, as always happens when I read a really good book, I want to dive right into another one! For now I'll have to be satisfied with The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis (kids' read aloud) and The Miracle Worker by William Gibson (kids' read aloud).

I am hoping ... that everything looks good and healthy with Kyndal and Collin's baby when we go to the ultrasound on Thursday. We are really hoping we can finally hear the heartbeat!

I am learning ... to just accept people for who they are. You can't change people.

In my garden ... are young people who are planting me a fall crop. Tomorrow we are planting swiss chard, broccoli rabe, onions, purple carrots, and kale. We are hoping that we aren't getting our seeds in too late and that the cold temps hold off long enough for us to get a harvest.

In my kitchen ... Coffee. Oh, and last night I ate something yummy! I made manicotti for the kids but I didn't want to eat the pasta. So, I cut a zucchini in half and hollowed each half out like a boat. I loaded them with the cottage cheese/mozzarella cheese/parmesan cheese mixture and a tablespoon each of spaghetti sauce and baked them right along with the pasta filled ones. Oh my gosh it was so good!!

In the homeschool room ... We now have added in all of our subjects and have developed a good flow. This week we are studying airplane design and uboats in our studies of WWII and doing some lessons on plant life in science. We had some fun with paper airplanes yesterday! Today we are going to do some drawing in our science notebooks.

A favorite quote for today ... I heard this while listening to Anne of Avonlea while I was running. It's just me. I like things steady .. no highs and no lows.

A peek into one of my days ... I ran my third 5K this past Saturday and shaved 2 minutes off my best time. It was a great run, especially since the temps were at about 50 degrees. Fabulous!

One of my favorite things ... the cooler temps we have had! In the 60's? YES! In hoodies and yoga pants? YES! Is it going to stay that way for a while? Sadly, no. Looks like we will be back in the high 80's for a bit this week.

From the board room ... although I abandoned the true Ketogenic lifestyle of eating, I am still eating as low carb as possible and eliminating grains the majority of the time. So, I am still pinning away when it comes to low carb foods. I hope to try this provolone taco shell soon ...

Post Script ... Apparently my introverted self is feeling pressed on all sides, because I have been really attracted to any article about getting alone time. This is the hardest part of homeschooling for me. Here are a couple of articles about getting that time alone, and the necessity of it, for an introvert like me.

Parenting and Homeschooling as an Introvert by Sallie Borrink

10 Ways to Get Time Alone When You're Homeschooling by Quill and Camera

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Hardest Part of My Homeschool Year

Simple Homeschool has been hosting guest posts about the hardest part of the homeschool year for different mom educators. Now they have opened it up for a link-up.

Homeschooling for me is rather easy because it caters to my strengths. I love to be at home. I love to plan. I love to teach. I love to learn. And I love being around my kids. Really, it's not that hard. We school year round so we can put in regular breaks. We don't usually experience burnout because a break is always on the horizon. We have worked out a daily schedule that works best for us, allowing the kids to stay up a little later at night and sleep in a little later in the morning.

Homeschooling is not hard.

The hardest part for me is just ME. 

I am an introvert. I laughed when I read another mom say on her blog this week that her favorite day of the week is Monday because the members of her family all go away. Before homeschooling, I always used to feel that way, too. I couldn't wait until Monday when Rick went to work and the kids all went back to school.

But it wasn't because I didn't love my people. It was because I desperately needed to be alone. I hated weekends because they were unscheduled, chaotic, loud, unpredictable, and everybody was everywhere all the time.

Now I do not have the luxury of Monday mornings where everybody leaves. Instead, Monday mornings are when all of the people-filled activity begins for the week.

The hardest part of my homeschooling day is just getting up and getting started.

I am naturally a morning person. I have absolutely no problem waking up in the mornings. So my difficulty in getting up and around is not because I am tired or lazy or want to sleep late. I wake up about an hour and half before the rest of my family. I even set my alarm to get up at 7:00 a.m. When I wake up I grab a cup of coffee, my Bible and journal, my computer, and my phone. I spend a glorious hour doing all my stuff. I do my Bible study, journal and e-mail my accountability partner. I catch up on blog posts and e-mails. I browse through Instagram and check the weather.

I want to be out on my run at 8:30 a.m., which means I have to be up and moving by 8:00 to get dressed and get the kids' awake and their breakfast fixed before I leave.

I have a really hard time getting up and moving by 8:00 a.m. Like I said, it's not because I'm tired or lazy. I've already been awake for an hour and had several cups of coffee. It's because I absolutely do not want to leave the solitude of my alone time. Once I get up and get moving, I have company in every other moment of my day. Most days I'm just not ready for it.

Having a schedule certainly helps. I know that I need to do certain things by certain times to get everything accomplished for the day. I am naturally a schedule-oriented person so this gets me moving more often than not. I hate getting off my schedule.

Things move along pretty smoothly throughout the morning and through lunch. But, starting about 2:00 p.m. I begin to lose my steam. We have talked and interacted and done and questions have been asked and answered. I have to drink a big glass of water and will myself to surge ahead when I really just want to curl up on the couch and call it a day. About now I am starting to feel "done".

But the great thing about educating my children all day long is that when 4:00 p.m. hits and our school day is complete, my kids evaporate. They have had enough of me. I think they are secretly afraid that if they come back into my view I might give them something else to do. They typically retreat to their rooms for some electronic time and alone time of their own. Thankfully they are introverts, too.

And it's at this time that I am rewarded for a hard day's work of being around my people.

I usually run retreat to my bedroom with a cup of chai tea. Sometimes I fold a load of laundry. Sometimes I watch something I have dvr'd. Sometimes I watch some Gilmore Girls on Netflix. Sometimes I read for a bit. To be honest, most days I lay down and take a 30 minute power nap.

My afternoon quiet time is invaluable to me! It gives me the energy boost I need for the rest of the evening. Because the evening is when Dawson and Taylar are home from school and work; Kyndal, Collin and the dogs stop by for a visit; dinner is happening; and, sports require us to do some running around. That half hour to an hour of alone time is an absolute necessity. Just ask my kids.

I will just conclude by saying that if this is the hardest part of my school year, for the rest of our school years, then I have it pretty good. I know what makes me tick and what ticks me off, so I am able to adjust our day and lifestyle to accommodate that.

It has taken some time but we have figured it out, for the most part.

Through all of this I remember to count my blessings of being able to educate my children and spend so much time with them. Time goes by so quickly. I want to cherish each and every moment, even if in some of those moments I secretly wish that I was cherishing them in another room, alone.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Into the Groove

This was another good week, but I sure was a lot more tired! It is probably that the euphoria of the first week back wore off a bit and the reality of full homeschool days hit. Lots of activity. Lots of learning!

We had school on Labor Day because we has just come back from an extended break in August. Yesterday I posted about our Spiders theme day. It was a surprise to me that both kids said that they actually prefer a regular ol' school day to a theme day. I can really see how they are growing and maturing in their education. That's a good thing, but kind of makes me sad that a few bells and whistles doesn't do the trick anymore.

The Basics

Each week I'll give a quick update on the subjects where we pretty much just do a lesson set a week. In grammar we completed four days of lessons from IEW's Fix-it Grammar, The Nose Tree; we learned three-syllable words in spelling; math had us subtracting fractions with like denominators and then simplifying; writing had us finishing up main ideas and moving onto paragraphs and staying on topic (We are using JacKris Publishing's Soaring with Spelling and Winning with Writing); we read several more pages in The Miracle Worker and read passages out of McGuffey's Fourth Eclectic Reader; and, we watched CNN Student News every day.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew

Like I said last week, the majority of what we glean from the unit study Further Up and Further In (other than just reading good literature) is science and geography. There is a lot of character and biblical study in the curriculum, but we just have some discussions as we are reading and move on.

Our science topics this week were: The birth and death of a star, particularly the sun. We did some new-to-us activities about sun rotation and sunrise/sunset.

Then we switched gears to learning a bit about Buckingham Palace and the UK House of Parliament by doing some virtual tours. I love when real life collides with what we are studying. This week also marked the establishment of Queen Elizabeth as the longest reigning monarch in England. We were also able to compare the House of Commons with what the Missouri Congress meeting rooms look like based on our tour of the Missouri State Capitol last spring.


We started getting more into the meat of WWII this week, learning about The Great Depression and the pre-war political climate and economy of the key nations.

In the car on the way to speech therapy, I had a captive audience so we watched the first half of Episode 2: "The Rising Threat" of the History Channel dvd series The World Wars. I was able to use the remote while driving to pause the show to discuss items with the kids to be sure they were understanding what was happening. (That is a great dvd series, by the way.) We have some of our best discussions in the car. I'm pretty sure I will be using this tactic more in the future!

We talked about Mein Kampf, the SS (Schutzstaffel), and Allies versus Axis. The kids are certainly starting to get the idea that Hitler was evil.

I picked up the game Battleship tonight for us to play. I thought that might be a nice tie-in to this unit, especially since we will be learning about submarines and u-boats in the next couple of weeks.

The Victory Garden

We are hosting an enrichment class on Wednesday afternoons for some of the kids' friends. Three of them are in public school (two in 6th grade and one in 7th) and one is a homeschool friend (in the 5th grade).

We read the first two chapters of The Victory Garden by Lee Kochenderfer. As an introduction, I discussed the Allies versus Axis countries and what was happening around the time of the setting of the book. It was happening just after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

We just tried to make the first day more about fun, so we did a set of lessons on sunflowers. We talked about the life cycle of a sunflower and then watched a Time Lapse video of them from seed to seed. We observed some sunflower heads I pulled from my garden this year, all full of sunflower seeds. The kids decorated crafts sticks to use as personal garden markers and planted sunflower seeds along the edge of clear cups so that we can observe their growth. Then we did a fun batik sunflower art project.

We are planning to plant a fall garden next week, and then each week we will read chapters from the book and do some gardening and/or WWII related activities. I am hoping that the kids enjoy the topics and that they get some good, fun time together.

Other Happenings

This was our first full week having Rick working from home. I think it went rather well. It was nice to have him take breaks to come in and watch videos with us and to discuss science topics (science is my weak area so having him around to help with that is going to be awesome!). I did have to tell Brynne to leave daddy alone a couple of times so that he could get some work done. She really likes to spend time with her daddy.

(I didn't have any photos of him working with us this week. But I did come across this one from several weeks ago and thought it was too good not to share.)

He also makes a great sorority sister. He wears many hats!

I took the kids to a nearby Fall Festival last night to ride the carnival rides. That carnival is just their speed so we try to go every year. They had a lot of fun, as usual!

Kyndal had her first real prenatal appointment this week with the midwife at her doctor's office. It was just a general check-up. She is 6 weeks today so it was still too early to hear a heartbeat on the Doppler. She will have an ultrasound in the next week or so and we are hoping to hear it then.

We celebrated Dawson's girlfriend's 18th birthday on Tuesday with homemade tomato bisque, grilled cheese, and a delish greek yogurt and fruit cake. This weekend Dawson is taking her to Tulsa to stay at his friend Tonio's house and take her to the Tulsa Zoo. Yesterday he bought her a new iPhone. They don't do a whole lot in the ordinary days, but they do birthdays BIG! Have you ever seen Sleepless in Seattle? They are MFEO ... made for each other. Hard to believe Taylar was just a little 15 year old freshman when she started dating Dawson, and they have been dating for 3 years.

From the Kitchen

I thought I might share a new recipe with you each week, if I have one to share. This week I came upon an absolutely delish low carb, low protein smoothie called an Avocado Vanilla Almond Smoothie. Mine came out to be 306 calories with 11.7 grams of carbs (8.2 g if you count net), 7.4 grams of protein, and 26.6 grams of fat. It was smooth and creamy and filling!

Kitchen Tip: Buy several ripe avocados. Cut them in half and deseed them. Put them in a large ziplock bag and freeze. Then when you are ready for your smoothie you can just grab it from the freezer and drop it in. Makes it extra cold and creamy!

The Upcoming Weekend

It's going to be a quiet one around here with Rick spending the next week working in Tulsa, Dawson and Taylar in Tulsa at the zoo and visiting friends, and Collin and Kyndal at the Fall Festival all weekend. It will just be the young two and me. I am getting up super early to run in a 5K tomorrow morning. Other than that I think we'll just hang out, read, watch some t.v., and get some lesson planning done for next week.

2015-2016 Hours Logged - 64 hours (5 hours 30 minutes outside home)
Plus 167 Summer Hours


We are linking up with Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Mary at Homegrown Learners.