Friday, December 2, 2016

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Tis the Season

We had such a great Thanksgiving break, and it was well-deserved. The kids have worked so hard this school year! I have been so proud of them. We are only a couple of days away from hitting our 100th day of school for the year. We are putting in four more solid weeks and then are taking an extra long Christmas break.

The next four weeks will be much of the usual: grammar, literature, personal reading, pre-algebra, astronomy, Greek mythology, Missouri history. Eli will continue to have speech therapy and will be bowling in youth league once a week. Brynne will continue to have basketball practice and games four days a week. We will continue to host our weekly enrichment class where the boys will get in some geography studies with "Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?" and the girls will do some holiday creative writing and art.

We have a lot of work to do and need to stay focused. But, we are definitely going to have a more relaxed attitude during these last weeks of 2016.

We have taken away a couple of our daily subjects so that we can add something even more important. And that's a focus on the Christmas season, Jesus, and family.

I purchased an ebook called Joy to the World by Kathleen M. Bassi. It is a very simple approach to Advent combining daily Advent activities, an Advent wreath and its significance, and the Jesse tree.

I have done Advent activities with the kids in years past, but as they have gotten older it has felt a little silly and forced. They didn't really get into it, so I'd just give up. Plus we would end our first school semester early in December, and we'd be out of our routine so it would just get pushed to the back burner. This year we are continuing with our semester until just before Christmas. And, Joy to the World gave me a plan to follow with a good balance that will fit all of our personalities.

We made an Advent chain to help us countdown to Christmas Day. We brainstormed and came up with an activity to put on each slip of paper. Here is what we have planned:

December 1: Make our Advent chain with activities
December 2: Color Jesse tree ornaments
December 3: Go shopping for Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes and mail to headquarters
December 4: Decorate gingerbread houses
December 5: Make bird food garlands
December 6: Read about and study St. Nicholas (maybe a little gift left in the kids' shoes that night?)
December 7: Make homemade Christmas cards
December 8: Watch "A Christmas Story"
December 9: Family game night
December 10: Drive through Christmas in the Park
December 11: Watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas"
December 12: Read about and study Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 13: Read about and study St. Lucy and make cinnamon rolls
December 14: Make gingerbread men
December 15: Attend Junior High/Senior High Christmas choir and band concert
December 16: Make homemade Christmas cookies
December 17: Host an ornament painting party for friends
December 18: Attend church service
December 19: Make homemade dog treats
December 20: Make Christmas tree dinner favors for nursing home residents
December 21: Watch "Polar Express" and drink homemade hot cocoa
December 22: Wrap gifts and CELEBRATE Eli's 13th birthday! To the movies and dinner out!
December 23: Watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"
December 24: Celebrate with family
December 25: Celebrate with family. Christ is born!

I made a simple boxwood wreath encircling our candles, and placed them with a "Peace" sign and our Nativity. Each day at lunch we will say the weekly prayer and light our candle. It will help to settle us and focus us for the last half of our busy school day.

Before bed each night we will read about one of Jesus' ancestors and add the corresponding ornament to our washi tape Jesse tree that is on the back of our front door so that we can see it in our main living area every day.

We are really hopeful that we will have a meaningful holiday season that will continue to draw us closer together as a family.

2016-2017 School Hours Logged: 412.25 hours, including 69.5 hours outside home. Plus Summer Hours Logged: 141.5 hours, including 54 hours outside home.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Give us three rhyming words that say something about your Thanksgiving holiday (or your most recent holiday gathering if you didn't celebrate Thanksgiving).

Squabble, gobble, wobble. What's a holiday without a little family disagreement? But it was all good and we enjoyed our Thanksgiving weekend together. My older kids had the funny idea to put two lemon halves under the skin of the turkey breast to make a "female" turkey ... *ahem*! It was so disturbing, but very funny. But it made the turkey really sour. We won't do it again, but it garnered some laughs. And, of course, after eating until we could burst, we definitely wobbled for a couple of days. I think I am still wobbling.

When did you last say, 'the more the merrier'? Did you mean it?

I don't remember the exact time I last said it, but I do say it pretty often (or something with the same meaning). I don't always really mean it deep down, but I try to be all-inclusive so if someone asks if someone else can come along, I always say "sure." And it usually turns out to be a really fun time with all of those extras.

What's one piece of advice you'd give someone who is your same age?

Exercise, moisturize, reenergize. (This was easier than coming up with three rhyming words in the first question.)

You're ordering a veggie plate, what four veggies are on it?

Cherry tomatoes, green pepper slices, cucumbers, and carrots.

Shop til you drop! Did you? Have you ever? Will you between now and Christmas?

Oh my, did we! And we do it every year. We are some of those sickos that go to Walmart on Thanksgiving night (but this year it started at six and we had already paid and were out the door by 6:15). We left our house at 6:30 a.m. on Friday morning to Black Friday shop and got home at 7:30 p.m. Then on Saturday Rick and I went to The Plaza in Kansas City to take my computer to the Apple Store for repair and walked out with a new laptop. Then we stopped at The North Face before going to dinner. I have online shopped like a crazy woman. And now I am done shopping! My mom, sister, daughter, and I will go shopping on Christmas Eve morning after breakfast together just to pick up any last-minute bargains. Yeah, we are shoppers.

What's your favorite chair in your house, and why is it a favorite?

Well, I love to sit in my striped chair in my living room that was a garage sale find for $35. It's super comfy. I usually sit in this chair to teach. But my favorite chair is my antique rocker that was my grandma's. There is something special about rocking my grandson in that chair.

Share an early memory of faith, religion, or spirituality.

Speaking of my grandma, I have such vivid memories of looking down the hall early on Sunday morning after we had spent the night with her on Saturday night to see her sitting at her kitchen table with her coffee preparing her Sunday school lesson to teach to her adult class. My grandma's faith and church devotion always made me feel closer to God.

Insert your own random thought here.

Around all of the shopping, our family did gather together for a nice meal on Thanksgiving Day. It was an extra special one for us as it was our first with our grandson, Bennett.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tuesday Coffee Chat

On November 8, my last Tuesday Coffee Chat post, I talked about some of my plans for doing something for myself. That was the challenge.

I rambled a lot in my post because I had been feeling very blah/lost/apathetic/etc. I just hadn't felt myself for quite some time.

My goal was to read a chapter a day out of A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George and allow God to be infused more into my daily activities. So, how did I do?

I did not read a chapter a day. But, I did start reading it and have been reading it slowly and absorbing it into my life. It's a good book with lots of insight. Throughout my reading I realized some other things I need ...

* I need to lighten up about relationships and just allow them to be what they are, to allow people to have the flaws that they have and worry more about my own flaws than theirs.

* I need to start my day with God so have been enjoying a daily devotional sent right to my phone via Joyce Meyer's app. It starts my day off right.

* I need to get back out on the pavement and run. Running helps me clear my head and makes my body feel so much better.

* I need to keep things simple. So my Christmas decorating this year consisted of buying a small $20 artificial tree to decorate and only putting out stockings and few other things. I love the glow of the Christmas lights and a little greenery, but I don't like clutter so this fits my need for order. I actually wasn't angry the entire time I was decorating this year. That's new for me so this simple thing must be a key to my peace.

* I am reading for pleasure every day and taking some time to binge watch some television series (really from Netflix and Amazon) in my quiet time.

* I am doing most of this by getting up earlier in the morning and starting my day before the rest of the family. It really does make a difference for me even though I would love to sleep in a little later.

* I have started taking a supplement called Vitex (chasteberry) in hopes that it will help regulate my hormones. I think that my hormone imbalances may be a big part in the feelings I have been experiencing these past several months. I am trying everything I can to keep from taking synthetic hormones, so am hopeful this will help some.

The holidays can be a very exhausting time for an introvert. Taking care of myself may seem selfish to others but it really is a necessity. Doing the things I have mentioned in this post really make me feel more refreshed and ready to tackle the busyness of this season. I am looking forward to spending time with my family enjoying the holidays.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Math Woes are the Way it Goes

Santa came early and I got a new laptop! Yay! Now I can actually start blogging again without saying lots of bad words and considering throwing my computer through the window! It's been a grueling several months babying along my old Mac, and my new MacBook Air is amazing! I don't have any photos on this new computer yet, and I am NOT going to rev up the old one to send myself some photos. So this will, hopefully, be the last photo-less blog post.

I mentioned in a previous post that we are ahead of schedule this year with our hours. That feels great! So we didn't stress when we took a full week off for Thanksgiving break and previously had to take almost a full week off school for sickness.

In most subjects we have been moving along steadily completely a lesson each week. We have been doing lots of reading, researching historical events alongside the show Timeless, enjoying astronomy and Greek Mythology, and learning more and more about Missouri's history.

Pre-Algebra had us at a standstill for a few weeks. But, one of my favorite things about homeschooling is our ability to continue working on a concept until we have it mastered. We have been camped out in math with adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing integers while using order of operations. There are a lot of concrete rules that have all piled up on each other, but it is absolutely necessary that we have these rules memorized before we can move forward in pre-algebra. The kids were both a little discouraged, but I assured them that we could continue working on problems until they were confident that they had the concepts mastered. At the end of the week before Thanksgiving break, I think they finally had it under control. We are going to do one more day of practice problems today to make sure and then will move on.

Election week was an interesting week! And we took advantage of it! We have followed it closely watching debates, discussing the electoral college, scrounging through the media reports. Election night I really hadn't planned on watching the results, but once we got started we couldn't stop. We put in about 6 hours of schooling that night waiting to see what would happen. As a family we held out until the final announcement that Donald Trump was our president-elect and that Hillary Clinton had conceded.

Our Missouri History studies that week had us learning about the artist George Caleb Bingham. We studied several of his paintings, particularly one called "The County Election". We completed a great art study that allowed us to discuss the differences between elections from the past and current elections. We had hours of interaction on these topics. I was so impressed with the insight the kids had with the art and the electoral process. It was a fun lesson.

The kids have also had their enrichment class with their friends each week. Eli and his friend are enjoying watching an episode of "Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego" and noting facts about locations visited. Brynne and her friend have been doing some seasonal creative writing and art.

Brynne is also now into the full swing of basketball, and Eli has started his youth bowling league. Brynne opted out of bowling this year. Eli is also still attending speech therapy each week.

In other words, we are busy all the time. We are planning four more solid weeks of school work and then are going to take a super long Christmas break this year from December 23rd until the first Monday in February! That will be so nice, especially since I am taking a week-long trip to Hawaii to visit a friend at the end of January.

2016-2017 School Hours Logged: 378.75 hours, including 63.5 hours outside home. Plus Summer Hours Logged: 141.5 hours, including 54 hours outside home.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Tuesday Coffee Chat

For the month of November, Leslie at Tuesday Coffee Chat is asking us to choose something we want/need to do for ourselves and to concentrate on that for the whole month. Then we can check in each Tuesday for a progress report.

This election has got me, like most people, feeling a little discombobulated. I feel all out of sorts. Where are we headed? What are we doing? What will become of us? I have a sinking feeling that if there was ever a time to get close to God and get right with Him it would be now. Now is the time. I think we are going to need Him. I know that I need Him, but I think I am going to need him more and more as time goes on. What is it going to take for Him to get our attention?

He's got my attention.

I want to be so close to God that I have an unshakable faith in Him and all He allows to happen in my life. I want to be the recipient of His blessings, but also His protection.

I cannot change the world. I cannot change any other one person. But I can work at change in myself, especially that change that I know I need to make.

I have talked recently about my apathy, lack of confidence, frustration and anger. I have burrowed myself away in my home shutting everything and everybody out. It's my safe place. It's where I want to be. I look at the first half of my life and, in many ways, worry that it has not counted for much. Then I panic and feel like I don't have that much time left to make things right.

I recognize how God and I are 'hit or miss' in our time together which leaves me flailing around and 'hit or miss' in how I feel about people and situations and myself.

I find myself wanting to do this or that and change this or that, but then realize I don't really have the energy for it. I think that is because I am not involving God in my decisions so I am trying to do it all in my own strength. And that wears me out. Heck, I am not even asking God his opinion about what I should not be doing.

Take care of myself. That's been my answer.

I just feel like God wants more from me. He wants more for me. He needs me as much as I need Him.

This is a rambling post, huh? I haven't really given an answer to the question. So I guess that's where my updates will find me ... figuring it out as I go along.

But I do know for sure, God is the key.

*** I wrote this post last night as I was going to bed. This morning I picked up a book off my bookshelf that I have owned for years. I have read a little of it, but never the whole thing. I was wondering last night how I really felt about my post and my feelings and what I would do about any of it. The first chapter was about making your life count for God. The gist of the prologue and first chapter was that it is all about discipline. I decide to acknowledge God and he then provides me with answers and guidance. I have an obligation to him and He has an obligation to me. I am not alone.

So, for this first week of November, I will begin reading a chapter each morning out of A Woman After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George.

I look forward to seeing where this takes me.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Whoa, Nellie ~ The Election

Do you know who hasn't made an appearance on the blog in a while? ... my opinionated, possibly evil twin sister, Nellie. And she has some things to say. I have to warn you: Nellie does not have a filter, and she's been quiet for too long, so gird your loins.

I saw someone post their early voter sticker on their IG account today with the caption that they "threw up in their mouth a little" when they voted. That made me mad. Grow up, people! We have four candidates in the presidential election. Do your research, pray, and then vote, unabashedly. If it drives you to the point of vomiting, then sit this one out. And then don't bitch and moan when things happen that you don't like.

I am a Trump supporter. There. I said it. I am not choosing the least of two evils. I am not vomiting on my way to the polling place. I have researched these two candidates and what they can do for me and my family, and I have decided that Donald Trump is the one to do it best. If you are voting for Hillary Clinton, you are wrong. There. I said that, too. If you like the shit-hole condition of our country and the direction it's been going in for the past 8 years, then go ahead and vote for that lying, cheating, conniving woman. If you want all of your constitutional rights stripped from you, then vote for her. If you want the government to control every single aspect of your life, and lie to you while they are doing it, then vote for her. If you want change, then don't.

Why am I voting for Donald Trump? I think the following response from someone else on the internet sums it up best:

Because I use my head to research and find out what candidates really are, not what the media wants me to think. 

Because Donald Trump has more women in executive and managerial positions than any comparable company, which tells me he is not a misogynist.

Because he pays these women the same or more than their male counterparts, which tells me looks for capacity and skills in people, not color, gender or race.

Because he fought the West Palm Beach City Council to be able to open his newly purchased club, so he could include blacks and Jews as members, who had been banned until then. This tells me he is not a racist.

Because he has raised wonderful children who have turned out to be outstanding, hard-working and compassionate adults. He must be doing something right.

Because his economic plans makes sense, are conservative in nature, and I vote based on what is best for my family, my friends and my country.

Because everybody, the left and the right are afraid of him, the media is trying to destroy his image, and even foreign governments are voicing their opinions, so he must be doing something right. Clean house maybe?

Because I want a Supreme Court that will uphold the Constitution, not behave as minions of the administration. I have had enough with judges who are more like political activists than law enforcers.

Because I fear for my family’s safety if the current trend of not confronting blatant terrorism continues – which is a threat to our way of life.

Because I am fed up with the rampant corruption of this administration. Accountability in government is paramount, and as this administration has demonstrated, it is a foreign concept to them.

Because I am fed up with the political correctness gone wild, and because Trump is not afraid to say what everybody thinks but does not dare to say. A thug is a thug, regardless of color, and that's it.

Because it is about time someone puts America's interests ahead of other countries.

Because I know he recognizes and embraces America's exceptionalism, and will not tour the World apologizing for who we are. That tells me he is a patriot.

Because, unlike HRC, he has actually held a job, worked hard and achieved success.

And last, but not least, because I am more offended by what Hillary does than by what Trump says.

I also think we have become this weak, hamby-pamby, get our panties in a wad over every stupid little thing kind of country. I am not one to get offended easily, if at all. So, honestly, I don't care if Donald Trump has said some crude things. I have said some crude things. Am I not allowed to be a possible conduit for change because I have said crude things? I sure hope that's not the test.

One thing Donald Trump has said that has stuck with me is that this campaigning process has changed him as a man. He has always been at the top looking down. But during his travels with real American people he has been changed by them and what he has seen. He has never denied anything he has said and done. He has admitted his opinions and failures and successes and has also admitted that he has changed some of his opinions throughout the course of this election process.

How about Hillary? Oh, dear Lord. That woman has been plotting her power trip for 30 years. And if you think she hasn't, you are blind. It has been a calculated plan. I honestly think Donald Trump woke up one day and said, "I've had enough. Somebody needs to do something!" I am praying he is successful in his quest for change. Because, people, anything is better than what is going on right now.

But here is one belief on which I absolutely stand: No matter what happens in this election, which candidate is left standing victorious, God has this. Period. If it turns out in the way I do not want, I know that God is allowing it to happen that way based on HIS plan, not Donald's and not Hillary's.

What God wants from me is for me to pray, vote, pray some more, and then get my butt into my home and family and start being a conduit for change there! We all need to do this. We need to be kinder to our parents and siblings, better friends and lovers to our spouses, more loving parents to our children (and by that I mean do what our kids need instead of what they want), love our neighbors when we can, mind our own business otherwise, and take care of our own bodies. If every person did that within the walls of their own homes, instead of trying to control what everybody else is doing, we would be a healed nation. Period.

So for the next four days I am going to spend some time in prayer. I am a Christian woman.

And as a Christian woman, on Tuesday, I am voting for Donald Trump.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Pumpkin Patch and Halloween

Our family spent an afternoon at the pumpkin patch a couple of weeks ago, and on Halloween we had a nice night of trick-or-treating.

We headed to the patch on a nice 88 degree day. Yuck. It wasn't quite the flannel-shirt-wearing day we had hoped for, but enjoyed our time anyway.

Collin's parents and brother, Austin, joined us. The big hit at the patch is always the tall slides. This year even Bennett got to ride one with his mommy and daddy.

This little guy enjoyed his first trip to the pumpkin patch.

We had a nice night celebrating Halloween. Dawson had to work, and Eli was recovering from being sick and didn't really feel like doing the whole costume thing and trick-or-treating. He hunkered down in his room playing video games instead.

I was a grandmummy even though Collin, Kyndal, and Bennett spent the evening with Collin's family and Bennett's cousins. Wasn't he the cutest hobo you've ever seen?

Brynne, however, was up for a fun night, and Rick and I had fun walking around town with her and her friends.

Early on she said she wanted to be a hot dog, but was questioning her costume choice as the night started. Running into ketchup and mustard confirmed that her choice was a good one!

It was a beautiful night in the 70's, and we walked all around uptown where the businesses and churches line the two main streets to hand out candy. It's a safe and fun alternative to going door-to-door.

Overall, October was a fun month spent with lots of family. Dawson celebrated his 20th birthday, we visited our family in Oklahoma, celebrated my grandmother's 85th birthday, and my brother and his family came for a visit from Oregon. It was a great month!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Tuesday Coffee Chat

In my quest to get back into a regular blogging schedule, I realized that Tuesday Coffee Chat is back this fall! I've missed some weeks, but I would have anyway because of the whole "I haven't felt like blogging" thing.

And, of course, today's topic is a doozy.

How do you handle your failures? Are you a crawl back into bed and wait for it all to pass kinda person? Or are you a jump immediately back on the horse sort?


There was a time ... quite a long time ago ... when I did not know failure. I was full of confidence (possibly arrogance) and just plowed forward through any failures and mistakes I made. Things didn't shake me or deter me or knock me down. I just believed that I could do whatever I set my mind to do, and I did it. And when I failed I just kept moving in that direction until I succeeded.

Somewhere along the way I realized my lack of invincibility. I even began to look back on past successes to realize I was the only one who thought I succeeded. Friendships I thought were solid were anything but solid. Other relationships I thought were true and honest weren't true and honest. The things I thought I wanted weren't things I wanted. Fail. Fail. Fail.

And my confidence went down the toilet.

Now I don't trust my instincts when I succeed. I am not sure what success is anymore.

My response is no longer to just push forward. My response now is to scale back my expectations and live each day as simply as possible. In other words, I find that I no longer have the courage to take any risks. High risk equals high return. But it also means a crashing fall if my instincts are wrong. And since they have proven to be wrong so much of the time, I no longer trust them. That leaves me in a place of isolation, I know. But it feels to be the safest place for me. And I just don't have the energy to always be fighting for something. I am more comfortable to just letting life happen around me, jumping in when I feel inspired to and sitting back during all of the times when I don't.

Really I just try to appreciate the small things in my life, the little successes, those day-to-day things that bring me joy. Although I feel a little knocked down by the realities of life, I am not unhappy with my station in it. Maybe I am really, now, who I was always meant to be and, before, was really striving to be someone I was not. I'm not sure.

But the bottom line is that when faced with failure ... with adversity ... I now tend to take a few steps back instead of jumping several steps forward.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Missouri Monday ~ Preserving our History

A couple of weeks ago the kids and I went on a cool field trip to to the Arabia Steamboat Museum.

In the 1860's, the Arabia sunk in the Missouri River while transporting goods and passengers. There were no casualties (other than a poor donkey who was still tethered when they excavated), but the goods sunk into the mud and soot of the Missouri where it stayed preserved for over 100 years.

This is what took down the Arabia Steamboat, still lodged
in it when they found it.

The path of the Missouri River changed in that decade and in the 1980's a group of excavators located the Arabia buried in a corn field in Kansas, now on the opposite side of the river where it sank. What they recovered is nothing short of astonishing.

Those are dishes I wish I had in my kitchen!

All of these wooden clothespins survived a decade of submersion!

Although the steamboat itself was in bad shape, and only one portion was able to be recovered and restored, the goods were still in remarkable shape. Those goods recovered were originally being transported to pioneer stores for sale ... clothing, housewares, building supplies, food, guns, perfumes, etc. The items were so well preserved that even a jar of pickles was opened and still edible. The museum still has items that have not been completely restored and those items are kept in a cooler on the site and worked on until they can be transferred to the museum floor.

We are going to be building a house and what I wouldn't give
to have those doorknobs!

One of the excavators was on site to talk with us and shared that they are currently in the process of digging up another steamboat. All total, eleven steamboats have been recovered.

To see Missouri's history in such a tangible way was very overwhelming to me. It was truly amazing.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Monthly Wrap-up ~ Timeless

This blogging thing ... yeah, sorry about that. But I plan to do better. I really do. I'm gonna get you all wrapped up on school for the past month, and then I promise that I am going to get back into regular blogging. Because we really have been doing a lot of fun things that I have failed to share, like volleyball, the pumpkin patch, birthdays, grandbaby cuteness, and more.

Over the last month we have moved right along in our school work, and even took a week off for Fall Break. We have consistently done all the basics. We get in our reading, grammar, math, spelling, copywork, cursive handwriting every single day. We are studying astronomy and Greek mythology. We are reading aloud out of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, finished The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono (and went to see the excellent puppet show based on the short story), and are now reading The Green Ember. We continue to have our enrichment class every week where the girls are doing some creative writing and the boys are now watching an episode of "Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego". Every day is filled to the brim with studies.

I am going to focus this wrap-up on something new we have been studying that has been so much fun and is the kids' favorite subject of the week.

We are doing a weekly history lesson using the new television series, Timeless on NBC.

This drama follows a history professor, former soldier, and employee of a company who made a time machine when the time machine is stolen by a villain who travels back in time to change historical events. The events visited so far have been the Hindenburg disaster, the assassination of President Lincoln, 1960's Rat Pack in Las Vegas during the testing of the Atomic bomb, and the V-2 rocket used by the Germans in WWII and honored at the celebration at the Castle Varlar. This week we are going to the Alamo.

We love to study this way, by researching an event or reading a book and then watching a television show, documentary, movie, or play about it. So on Mondays we do a History Detective worksheet where we study the historical event that will be covered on Timeless that week. We research in books and on the internet, watch videos, etc. We try to learn all we can about it. This has taught us things I guarantee are not in history books. I have learned so much!! Believe me, I am having just as much fun, if not more, than the kids.

Then on Tuesday afternoons we watch the episode of Timeless and contrast the ways it was alike and different from the actual historical events. It's a lot of fun and gives us so many things to discuss. (Plus it gives the kids opportunities to practice their research and note taking skills and to correlate information.) Sure they throw in some fiction or mix in other historical characters that were not involved in the actual events, but that's what makes the investigation of truth versus fiction so enjoyable.

Now that I have figured out a few of the current quirks of my laptop, I plan to get back into regular blogging. (I promise, Uncle John.)

This life is just too good not to share!

2016-2017 School Hours Logged: 314.75 hours, including 53.5 hours outside home. Plus Summer Hours Logged: 141.5 hours, including 54 hours outside home.

On a side note: We are ahead of schedule on our required hours this year! We have a 6 week Christmas break planned already, but it looks like if we continue with our current plan of weekly hours we will also end up with a longer Spring Break and may even end school before our scheduled end of April. Kudos to hard-working kids!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wednesday Hodgepodge

I am still having computer problems that make blogging much more trouble than it's worth. But I'm going to give a Wednesday Hodgepodge a try since it has been so long since I have participated. And I have missed it!

What would you say is the best and worst thing about moving house?

The best thing is definitely the purging that can occur. On our next move I am definitely only going to take with us what I really want! The worst part? All of the last little odds and ends that never seem to end ... those last bits in those last drawers and closets ... those final things you can't pack because you need to use them right up until the moment you move.

What's moved you recently?

Seeing all of the love our whole family has for Bennett warms my heart. He is just such a joy, and he lights up the faces of each of us when he comes into the room. He is a precious gift.

Do you feel your life is moving forward, backward, or is on hold? How so?

I feel like my life is moving forward at warp speed. How is it already the middle of October of 2016? This year has absolutely flown by, and each year seems to go by faster and faster.

On the move, move mountains, get a move on, it's your move, or bust a move ... which phrase best applies to some aspect of your life right now? Explain.

I would say I need to get a move on. I feel like I am in a bit of a slump right now ... in one of those "I don't care" kind of moods. I hate it when I feel like this. I just feel tired and worn down and don't have any energy to rise above it. It's not depression, really, but more apathy. I am not eating as well as I should, not exercising, not consistently having my daily quiet time. I feel inadequate as a wife, as a mother, as a friend. It seems most nights I say, "Tomorrow I am going to start __________." But then tomorrow arrives and I just don't feel like it. I need to get out of this funk.

What song makes you want to get up and move?

Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars.

Your favorite snack to grab when you're on the move?

If we are running out of the house for an outing, I always throw some kind of protein bar into my purse. If we are traveling, I grab a bag of corn nuts.

What one accessory makes your house feel like home?

Probably our throw blankets. Nothing says home like curling up on the couch or in a big comfy chair and covering up with a plush throw.

Insert your own random thought here.

If you are on Instagram, and would like to keep up with my goings on there (because I am now a terrible blogger), and would like the added bonus of seeing daily photos of my adorable grandson, you can request to follow me. My username is nikki_taulman.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Missouri Monday ~ Ownership of Missouri

For the past few weeks we have been studying about all of the various countries who owned the Missouri Territory, about the Louisiana Purchase, the exploration of Lewis and Clark, and how Missouri actually became a state.

France and Spain tossed the Missouri Territory back and forth for quite some time. The United States only included those states East of the Mississippi River, so Missouri was not part of the original United States. It was as if Missouri was living in another world. They were not directly involved in the Revolutionary War against England, other than the French loaning their resources to the United States to help them fight against the Brits. (I always wondered how life on the Little House on the Prairie was "peacefully" moving along while the Revolutionary War was raging in the East. This is why.)

In the meantime, the Missouri Territory was becoming a strong fur trading area. The city of St. Louis was in its early stages and many towns were popping up along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. For the most part there was peaceful living between the Native Americans and the French.

When Spain took control of the territory, it pretty much ignored the area. But there were still strong French influences. Eventually Napoleon realized that he needed lots of money so he sold the entire Louisiana Territory to the United States for a mere $15 million. This doubled the size of the United States and consumed the Missouri Territory.

Missouri then worked at becoming a state and initiating its own government and constitution. With the completion of the Missouri Compromise, Missouri officially became a state. As we learned on our last field trip, the first capitol building was in St. Charles, Missouri, and Missouri's first governor was Alexander McNair. Once the city of Jefferson City was constructed, the capitol permanently moved there.

Lewis and Clark were dispatched from Missouri on their famous Corp of Discovery. During this time William Clark scouted out the area for a U.S. military post called Fort Osage. This post was to be a trading post for the United States government. Fort Osage is located in Sibley, Missouri, named after its trader George Sibley.

The kids and I spent an afternoon at Fort Osage recently during their Grand Festival of Chez Les Canses. This festival gave us a taste of the military fort itself, as well as the French influence at the time. It was a perfect way to conclude this portion of our studies.