Sunday, August 28, 2016

Kansas City Royals Charities 5K

My mom, Brynne, and I got up super duper early yesterday morning to drive to Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City to run/walk in the Kansas City Royals Charities 5K.

We had a lot of fun supporting this event and running around the field on the warning track!

We even got up on the Jumbo Tron.

By participating we received a cool t-shirt and a ticket voucher to a game in September. After we got home, the rest of my night pretty much looked like this ...

Life is so good.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Weekly-Wrap Up ~ One of Those Interruptions

I recently read the book Teaching from Rest by Sarah MacKenzie. There were so many nuggets from that book that I wanted to remember throughout the school year, so I wrote several quotes throughout my planner.

One of the quotes written on my August calendar is "When a person interrupts what you are doing, you recognize a representative of Christ."

We had our first full week of school last week. And this week a person interrupted us. He was most certainly a representative of Christ. I guess you could go ahead and say he was an angel sent straight from above.

Bennett Matthew Werths beautifully interrupted our lives on Monday morning at 7:16 a.m. He weighed 6 lbs. 5 ozs. and was 18 1/2" long. He was three weeks early, just two days shy of 37 weeks. Kyndal had been having contractions, dilating, and effacing since 33 weeks, so her doctor was pleased that she made it that far. Bennett was born completely healthy! His lung development was just fine, his blood sugars all tested in the normal range, and his bilirubin levels were only slightly elevated. The NICU team cleared him to spend all his time with his mommy and daddy and he was released to go home with them on Wednesday.

He is perfect, and I mean perfect. And look at all of that hair!!

Kyndal and Collin did so amazing during the labor and delivery. They handled it with humor, patience, and a beautiful strength. Kyndal was a warrior, and I could not have been more proud of her. Watching my daughter become a mother was the most surreal and profound moment of my life.

So, yeah, there were no books cracked this week. We will start back up on Monday.

This week we celebrated the "contemplative way" ... the being and becoming over the doing and checking off. ~ Teaching from Rest. And it was the better way.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Homeschooling and the "S" Word


Everybody assumes that if you homeschool your kids that they are unsocialized weirdos who cannot function in the "real" world. What a load of bologna!

When I am asked if I am concerned that my children are not receiving enough socialization, I first clench my fists, take a couple of deep cleansing breaths, and then respond as follows: I do not want my kids socializing with the majority of the kids in public school. There. I said it.

Instead, we take the time to choose the circle of influences of our children. We know exactly who they are socializing with at all times.

I have one very social child, although she is just as content to hang out at home with her family. And then I have one who gets very over-stimulated around other kids his age. Both of the kids are introverts, like me, and get their energy from being at home in the quiet. Brynne does, however, enjoy friendship time so we make sure she has as much interaction with her gal friends as she desires. She plays sports so gets to hang out with her friends often. She has a couple of "besties" who come over for one-on-one time and sleepovers.

Eli, however, can only handle friend time in short doses. If he has a friend over, which is not often, he only desires to spend about two hours with him. Then he is ready to get back to his solitude.

Public school would not change these personalities of my children. Well, actually, it might make them feel like they were wrong for being introverts who enjoy being alone, and they would fight their natural tendencies their whole lives not able to figure out why they were miserable and drained the majority of the time.

Brynne had her birthday party this past weekend and invited a gaggle of girls. They had a great time playing volleyball, tag, hide-and-seek, and throwing water balloons.

Poor thing looks desperately unsocialized, doesn't she?

At Eli's birthday party last December he invited his two best friends over to play video games. The party lasted two hours and he was spent and ready for them to go home at the end of the party. He had a great time! But that was all he could handle.

So, if you are wondering, we do not think about nor worry about the socialization of our homeschooled children. They are doing just fine!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Weekly Wrap-up ~ First Week of the 2016/2017 School Year

Welcome back to another year of homeschooling fun with Journey to Excellence! I cannot believe we are starting our 7th year of home education!

We had a great summer of learning ... nine weeks of summer school which consisted of lots of reading, both read alouds and personal reading, a daily Summer Bridge activity sheet that covered so many concepts I can't even begin to list them here, and P.E. in the form of swimming and softball.

We ended the summer with our annual trip to the lake with our friends from Oklahoma. While there we did a whole unit study on the Olympics.

We planned to take off the rest of the month of August and start our fall semester on August 29th. But after we factored in time we want to take off in the winter months and a rapidly approaching due date for the birth of our first grandchild, we decided we needed to go ahead and start a couple of weeks early. It just so happened that CNN Student News started their new year on August 15th, so the kids decided that might be a pretty good day to start.

Boy, was I excited! The kids ... maybe not quite so much. But with my enthusiasm they were, at least, not totally dreading it!

I woke early Monday morning to get back on my own personal schedule and had just woke the kids up to start getting ready for the day when I got a phone call from my daughter telling me that she thought she should go to her OB appointment early because of some issues she was having. I didn't think it was wise for her to go alone so I announced to the kids ... "Good news for you! No school today!" I packed a bag, just in case, left the kids with Dawson, and drove up to Kansas City with Kyndal. Thankfully, the "something's up" issue wasn't serious, and she was able to come back home with another appointment in a week. The real good news for her is that things are starting to happen!! ...

The kids were also pleased that I was home early enough that we could go ahead and get in three hours of schooling. Not.

I had a whole themed day planned called "School is Cool". We were going to spend our day doing cross-curricular activities having to do with cold and ice. We had to cut those activities down to just a couple of things, but they were fun and gave us a good first day back to school.

The rest of the week couldn't have gone better.

We started on time, ended mostly on time each day, and got everything done that we planned to accomplish. Each day we did our absolutes: reading, writing, grammar, spelling, math, etc.

My observations ...

Doing activities outside the home during the school day is going to be an adjustment for us. Typically all of our extra activities are done on the weekends or evenings, but this year we will have speech therapy one morning a week and archery one afternoon a week during regular school time. We are having to figure out how to juggle our regular school work around our time away from home.

Our new binder organization system (aka Each Kid is in Charge of His/Her Own Things This Year) is working famously! Who knew my kids were actually capable of taking care of their own supplies and work?? They have done so great, and it has kept me from switching out their worksheets all day for them and doing all of the leg work while they sat and waited for me to do it for them. What was I thinking all this time? My need for order and organization kept me from allowing them to figure out how to do it on their own. They have been more than ready to do these things themselves. I have only been making more work for myself. Silly me.

When you allow your kids to attempt hard things on their own, they will most often rise to the occasion. We have always done everything together with me supervising (actually micromanaging) their work. But this year I am handing them some of their work and just walking away while they complete it, asking them to dig a little deeper to find answers they might not be able to easily find. They have reached a level of maturity and independence that makes me so proud!

We are studying some fun topics this year! Greek mythology, astronomy, Missouri History, fun literature.

The Summer Triangle: Cygnus, Aquila, and Lyra

Homeschooling is one of my most favorite things I have ever done in my life. I am truly honored to have the opportunity to spend every day with my kids, learning alongside them and watching them grow.

We ended the week with Rick and I going to a Kansas City Royals game, a late birthday gift for me from him. It was so much fun!! We won the game handedly and even got to see a grand slam. It was an awesome night!

We also gathered in the living room to introduce a classic to the kids: the original Pete's Dragon. We always try to read the book and/or see the original movie of any current movie playing, if there is one. What a fun classic!

I'm not going to lie .. we are all tired and ready for the weekend. Brynne's birthday party is tomorrow evening at the park, so we are going to be busy. But we have plans to do some major vegging on Sunday and get geared up for Week 2!

2016-2017 School Hours Logged: 28.25 hours, including 2 hours outside home. Plus Summer Hours Logged: 141.5 hours, including 54 hours outside home.

Linking up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Home Stretch

Our first grandchild is due in four weeks.

To say we are excited is an understatement. We cannot wait to meet our grandson!!

On Monday I took Kyndal out to our new property to take some maternity photos of her. We took photos on the side of the property where her and Collin will build their house in a few years. We got some great shots. She is beautiful!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Our Homeschool Work Day

Our first day of fall semester is just a few days away, and with that comes a more scheduled day. As much as I have enjoyed these easy days of summer and summer school, I am ready for more of a schedule. When left to my own devices I can easily wiggle out of getting up earlier to have my morning time, out of exercising regularly, and out of running my household efficiently. I get an attitude of, "Eh, I can do that later ...." And then later never comes.

Our days will look pretty much like they have looked every other year. I have it pretty much down to a science for us. But it is always nice to document my intentions so that I have a concrete goal. For me, a goal written down is much easier to achieve.

Here is what I am hoping will happen each day starting on Monday ...

7:00 a.m. ~ Me get out of bed for coffee, Bible study, and computer time.

8:00 a.m. ~ Work out. For now that means doing DailyBurn365 two mornings a week, running two mornings a week, and doing a 21 Day Fix routine on Friday mornings.

8:30 a.m. ~ Get the kids up, breakfast, quiet time for the kids, housework, me get ready for the day.

10:00 a.m. ~ Morning school. This will include spelling, current events, read aloud, copywork, grammar, math, and personal reading.

12:00 p.m. (or so) ~ Lunch is usually about an hour, more or less depending on how much we have accomplished and still need to accomplish.

1:00 p.m. (or so) ~ Afternoon school. This includes literature, Greek mythology, Missouri history, astronomy, and more personal reading.

4:00 p.m. ~ School concludes for the day, we clean up, and mom takes a 30 minute power nap.

5:00 p.m. ~ Start preparing dinner, finish up any housework, kids free time until bed.

5:30 p.m. ~ Dinner and then evening television and relaxation.

9:00 p.m. (or so) ~ Me to bed to read for about 30 minutes.

10:30 p.m. ~ Kids lights out.

Of course some days will look a little different:

On Wednesday mornings Eli has speech therapy at 9:15 a.m. so we are away from the house from 8:45 - 10:30 a.m. During this time Brynne is working on her additional science curriculum.

On Thursday afternoons we conclude by 3:00 p.m. because we host an enrichment class at our house from 3:30 - 5:30 p.m.

One day a week the kids will be attending an archery club.

Some evenings Brynne has volleyball practice and/or games, that will then move into basketball practices and/or games.

Our goal is to complete 6 hours of schooling each day in some way, shape or form.

Let's get this school year started!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Are you watching the Olympics? Your favorite summer Olympic event? I read recently a list of the most iconic Olympic moments in history ... what stands out in your mind as a great moment from some past summer Olympic games?

We are watching quite a bit of the Olympics this year. I enjoy swimming the most, and particularly enjoyed watching Michael Phelps beat the pants off that jerk, Le Clos. I agree that the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, were definitely monumental with Hitler using the games as propaganda and then Jesse Owens putting Hitler in his place with his four gold medals (priceless!). If you haven't seen the movie, Race, it is worth a watch. The pipe bomb at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, was a pretty big event. And, for me personally, watching Mohammad Ali light the torch in the opening ceremony of those same games was pretty special.

Have you ever been to Rio? How about the place that started it all -- Greece? Have you ever been to any of the Olympic games in person? Is that something you'd like to do? Have you ever met an Olympian in person?

I have not been to Rio. I have not been to Greece, although it is on my bucket list! I have not been to the Olympic games in person, but have been to Olympic Centennial Park in Atlanta. The Olympic Rings water fountain show is pretty cool! I have no desire to go to the Olympics. I am not too interested in being in a large venue with today's terrorist activity. I have not ever met an Olympian in person, but we learned that the 21 year old USA archery silver medalist is from Wellington, Missouri, which is very close to our home town. We are hoping that maybe he frequents the archery shop where the kids will be attending shoots this fall. Maybe we will meet him!

The ball's in their court (tennis), cross the finish line (track and field), on target (archery), make a splash (diving), on a roll (gymnastics), out of one's depth (swimming) ... which Olympic-related idiom best applies to your life right now? Explain.

I would have to say that we are on target. Our family is just in a really good place right now .. all of us. We are anxiously awaiting the birth of our first grandson; I am happy to see my two grown children in loving relationships with solid future plans; we are getting ready to start our 7th year of homeschooling, and it just gets better and better every year; and, Rick and I are closer than ever, going on some fun adventures, and just enjoying life.

What have you earned a 'gold medal' in recently?

Oh, gosh, I don't know. I guess I would have to say that both Rick and I have really done well in our training on our bikes. We have been taking long rides, for us, between 15-18 miles each weekend. Two weekends ago we rode 35 miles at once! We were hurting so bad! But, we did it, and we are going to keep working to do it again. We have got to get ourselves worked up to riding 60 miles in one ride and then getting up and riding about another 50 on the next ride. The ride we are working toward is 241 miles over 5 days.

What is it (or who is it) that motivates you to eat right, exercise, and do what you can to be healthy?

I really do it for myself. It makes me feel really accomplished. But, I also keep in mind that I have two daughters who are watching me, and I would like to be an inspiration to them. My mom has always been an inspiration to me, someone who exercises every day and eats healthy. She looks great for a woman her age and is very healthy.

Are you young at heart or an old soul? Explain.

Definitely an old soul. I am a little old lady trapped in a 40-something year old body.

It's National S'mores Day (August 10th) ... are you a fan? Will you celebrate with a s'more today?

I do love s'mores, but we did not have any today. I did, however, have some brownies and Jazz Berry wine by Adam Puchta. That was a nice treat!

Insert your own random thought here.

We are super excited to announce that we are purchasing 17 acres about 2 miles outside of town. I have always wanted to live out in the country in a farmhouse and have a hobby farm. Kyndal and Collin also want to live out on some acreage and want to live close to us. We found 17 acres for a very good price that is set up perfectly to build two homes with a tree line dividing the two. Rick and I are purchasing the property with plans to build in a couple of years. We are looking at farmhouse plans. Collin and Kyndal will build a home shortly after we do, hopefully, on the side of the property with the well-stocked pond. We have already picked out the spot where we will create a path through the trees so that Bennett, and any of Kyndal and Collin's other children, will be able to come to Nana and Grampy's house whenever they want. There is also plenty of remaining land that one or more of the other kids could build there if they ever wanted to. It is a very exciting time in our lives! I am going to have chickens and a tea cup piggie, maybe an old horse.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Curriculum 2016/2017 ~ 6th/7th Grade

It's that time ... Yes, it is! It is officially time to start our 2016/2017 school year.

This summer we logged over 140 hours in 9 weeks of summer school that will allow us to take the extended breaks we like to take later in the year. We had originally planned to start our fall term on August 29th. But we have a grandson due to be born in the next month, and I have a vacation planned for late January that will interfere with our normal scheduling. So I have convinced the kids that we should start this coming Monday, on August 15th. They weren't overly excited, but the promise of a long Christmas break helped to convince them that it might not be an all-bad idea.

As I am every year, I am really excited about our topics for learning. In addition to those basic studies, we will be digging deep into Missouri history, Greek Mythology, astronomy, and literature. It is really going to be an excellent year!

Here is what we have by way of curriculum choices:


McGuffey's Fourth Eclectic Reader and McGuffey's Fifth Eclectic Reader. Last year we used these classics to do recitations and to read and copy good vocabulary, poetry and prose. We will continue to do it each morning this year, as well. It is a special way to start the day.

Fix-it Grammar, Robin Hood (IEW). This program has been a good fit for us as it involves literature, writing, and a slow-progression of learning grammar. We completed about half of this volume last year and will finish it this fall and then move onto the next volume. It is also getting us prepared for the IEW writing program that we will start in the next couple of years.

Soaring with Spelling, Levels 5 and 6. We start each morning with a simple spelling worksheet from Soaring with Spelling. It gets the kids' brains moving and gets them a little extra spelling practice. We do not take tests, just review spelling concepts.

Current Events

CNN Student News. Of course we will continue our year with a daily dose of Carl Azuz and his 10 minutes of current events and puns. We love this show! We had the pleasure of going on Carl's CNN Student News Tour last year in Atlanta and got to meet him. He's a fantastic guy very intent on using his show to educate children.


Pre-Algebra Tutor Volumes 1 and 2 from We completed the entire Mastering 5th Grade Math series and the kids decided that Jason is an effective teacher so they would like to continue on with this series.


A major component of our school year is our year-long literature study. We use our literature studies as a jumping-off place for history and science. In years past we have done entire studies on the Little House on the Prairie series (with Westward expansion and pioneer days history studies with lots of life and biological sciences) and The Chronicles of Narnia series (which took us on a year-long study of WWII and learning a lot about recycling and energy conservation with the National World War II Museum in New Orleans). This year we are tackling the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan and learning about Greek Mythology and Astronomy.

D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths by Ingrid and Edgar Parin D'Aulaires with D'Aulaires' Greek Myths curriculum from Memoria Press. This is a new company for us, and I doubt we will use it exactly as it is prescribed because we are a little more eclectic than classical in our educational approach. But it is certainly a good guide with loads of information.


To go along with our study of Greek Mythology, the kids will spend the year studying astronomy. We will use The Book of Astronomy curriculum from Memoria Press. We will also throw in some other activities, possibly with Minecraft. Again, the curriculum looks a little too stringent for our style. But I do not doubt that the kids will really enjoy learning this information.

There is a good chance that Brynne will be entering public school next year in order to be allowed to play sports. Although we are not at all excited about her reentering public school, we are confident that with her personality and smarts that she will do more than succeed. Since we have never really been a "textbook" kind of homeschool, and we have never done a formal science curriculum, Brynne is going to take on Apologia's Exploring Creation Through General Science. Unfortunately, she needs to be confident in using a textbook, answering questions, and studying for standardized tests if she is going to be going back to public school. This will do the trick in getting her ready for that. And, I actually do think she will get a lot out of this curriculum. She's a pretty "school-y" kind of kid.


We will spend the entire year learning Missouri History. Again because of Brynne going back to public school, she needs to have studied Missouri History and the schools here cover it in the 4th grade. They only get the glossed-over have-to version, but we are going to study it all year using a textbook called Missouri: Then and Now by Perry Mccandless and William E. Foley, prepare a Missouri notebook, and go on many field trips. This is probably the subject I am most excited about this school year. We are going to go all over this state and have some really fun times.

These are the field trips we have planned at this time:
  • Fort Osage
  • St. Genevieve (Missouri's oldest city), Mastadon State Park, Graham Cave
  • St. Charles (Missouri's first capitol city) and Daniel Boone home
  • Arabia Steamboat Museum, Kansas City
  • Watkins Woolen Mill, Lawson
  • Wornall Majors House Museums, Kansas City
  • Battle of Lexington site, Lexington
  • Jesse James home and Mt. Gilead, Kearney
  • WWI Museum, Kansas City
  • Federal Reserve Museum, Kansas City
  • Liberty Hill Farm, Warrensburg (modern farming)
  • Hannibal, Missouri, and Mark Twain home


The kids will continue to read books of their choice. Brynne is still working through the Warriors series and has about 10 more books to read. There is also a series involving dogs and bears from the same author that interest her. Eli is currently reading the Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins. I am going to encourage him to read the 39 Clues series soon.

We will also have a read aloud going at all times that corresponds with either our Missouri history studies or that are going to be plays or movies in the upcoming year. At this time our selections include:

Hana's Suitcase by Karen Levine
No Talking by Andrew Clements
The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein (this one is just for fun)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Jesse James: The Wild West for Kids by Adam Woog
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono

Enrichment Class

We are going to try to split up our enrichment classes this year into a boys' class and a girls' class. The boys will be doing a STEM activity each week and the girls will be doing creative writing.

Extra Curricular Activities

Brynne will be playing volleyball, basketball, and softball this year, as well as bowling. Eli will be bowling and attending speech therapy once a week. He is also hoping to get involved in some regular archery activities.