Friday, March 31, 2017

Weekly Wrap-up ~ School Called on Account of Family

I am sure many of you are like we are right now ... ready for some spring temps, getting a little tired of the school routine and ready for the end of the school year, and lack of general motivation.

We have been pushing through Spring Fever, working hard on getting Brynne ready for standardized testing, and beginning to wrap up some subjects. When we start to get ho-hum about our studies it usually means we are ready for a little science.

Watching "The Wheel" on the Discovery Channel has prompted our studies of biomes. Last week we set up a science experiment to determine which of four biomes would yield the best results in growing impatiens, lima beans, and rye grass. We have the deciduous forest, grasslands, rainforest, and desert. We will be observing the growths in these biomes for the next few weeks.

A sweet lady at our church tapped Eli on the shoulder last Sunday and handed him a crinoid stem that she had found on her property. The crinoid is an ancient sea animal, but also still in existence in many oceans today. When Missouri was underwater a long, long, long time ago, there were an abundance of crinoids. It is now the state fossil. We spent some time researching the crinoid, watching videos, and doing a crossword puzzle. We are hoping to get permission to go onto her land soon and look for more fossils.

Otherwise school has consisted of the usual grammar, spelling, reading, writing, math, and studies in astronomy, Greek mythology, and Missouri history.

This week we cancelled some school work here and there because we had an influx of visiting family members in town. On Wednesday my aunt and second cousin were visiting at my mom's, so I went for lunch and ended up staying most of the afternoon. Dawson came home for a visit yesterday afternoon and my brother and niece were visiting from Oregon. We cut our school day short that day. And today, we just called the whole day off. With big brother home for a few days, we knew it would be impossible to focus. Sometimes family is more important.

Brynne wrapped up her basketball season and we are now beginning softball practices. I am the coach this year so it is definitely going to be an interesting year! Eli is still bowling every week in preparation for state tournament in May. Brynne is also running in preparation for the Girls on the Run 5K in May.

We have such a busy summer ahead!

2016-2017 School Hours Logged: 795 hours, including 163.75 hours outside home. Plus Summer 2016 Hours Logged: 70.75 hours, including 27 hours outside home.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Teaching the Test

If you are a homeschooler I think you would agree that a big motivating factor in your decision to homeschool is that you have the right (with limits in some states) to teach your children what you want to teach them. At least in Missouri, we do not have to get approval for our curriculum or follow Common Core.

Brynne will be reentering public school in the fall for 7th grade. The school will require her to submit assessments to enroll, standardized test results. We do not take standardized tests. Really, we do not even take tests. Our assessments are typically based on discussion and mastery of materials as we compete lessons.

The elementary school has agreed to allow Brynne to sit with the other 6th graders to take the MAP test in May. That way she does not have to take a standardized test by herself at the high school sometime this summer, and I want the school to proctor her test so there is no question about its results.

The 6th graders do testing in Math and English. Because we do not follow Common Core, I need to make sure that Brynne has covered all of the topics that will be on the tests. I purchased Study Island for two months. She is working on a lesson of both Math and English each day. English has been super easy for her so far. Math has presented a few challenges, but she is moving through the problems nicely.

Because Eli and Brynne use the same curriculum in all of our subjects, we have put away our current Math curriculum and Eli has also been doing the Math portion of Study Island. Although he will not be sitting for the MAP test, or any standardized test in the near future, the use of Study Island is helping me see his strengths and weaknesses in Math. It has helped me see where our focus should be next year. In fact, it has shown me that, perhaps, we should scale back a bit for him with Math concepts, to slow down and let him digest some things that we have, obviously, not covered thoroughly enough. He was showing some extreme frustration and distress about his progress, so we shut down Study Island and covered some other material for a few days. His entire demeanor changed (I mean for the whole school day) because he was experiencing some success in Math instead of constant failure. It has helped me identify what Math we will be covering the rest of this school year, through the summer, and into next Fall. Homeschooling is a blessing, even when standardized testing gets involved.

But Brynne is pushing on in preparation of her test in May.

What this whole standardized testing thing has really shown me, though, is that our public schools really are so standardized.

I was at the high school last week at a Meet the School Board candidates forum and play practice was going on in the gym. I looked around the commons area at the posters and things hanging on the wall displaying some of the other areas of extra-curricular activities. I listened to the school board candidates discuss the challenges in our schools including technology, making sure students are ready for college and life after high school, etc. But in my mind all I could think was, "How in the world do you have time for all that other stuff if you have to be 'teaching the test'?" No wonder our students are strung out, spaced out, and stressed out.

I can see it in the eyes of my two students at home in just the little bit of standardized learning they are doing with Math.

And the standardized learning is anything but enjoyable. And because there is so much of it in just one day's lesson, we have had to put some of our other topics on the back burner just to get them completed.

Public schools have to do that every day. That's why you see so many extra-curricular activities happening only in after-school hours or being eliminated from the schools altogether.

I am not going to lie when I say that I am sad that Brynne is going back to public school. I think they try, I really do, but they are just not able to meet the needs of all of their students. I pray that she will not get lost in the shuffle. If anybody can navigate the waters of public school it will be Brynne. But I can't help to stop and think of the other students like Eli who would drown in that environment.

I only have 6 weeks left of teaching Brynne. I hate it that those weeks will be spent teaching the test. But, for her to be prepared, it is what has to be done.

Instead of taking off a full week for Spring Break this year (um, we did just start back to school from Christmas Break at the beginning of February), I told the kids that I would just give them off 5 random days between now and the end of our school year. They thought that was a great idea. We had pre-scheduled a day off this past Monday because we had such a busy weekend and I was pretty sure we would all need the day off. I was right! We were exhausted that day, and I had caught a cold and needed some mindless rest. Then yesterday we took off another day because I got asked to sub in my mom's card group, and I played cards all day. This week was a little low-key, but that was great for us. We still completed what we needed to complete and are ready for a full, strong week next week.

2016-2017 School Hours Logged: 752.5 hours, including 160.75 hours outside home. Plus Summer 2016 Hours Logged: 70.75 hours, including 27 hours outside home.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Simple Woman's Daybook

I just plain don't have an answer for today's Tuesday Coffee Chat question, but I am up early and drinking coffee and in the mood to write so I am going to do a Daybook entry instead.

Looking out my window ... It is dark and chilly. It seems we are having a last blast of cold air before spring temps settle in for the duration. Why is it so dark at 7:07 a.m.? Because of that darned Daylight Savings.

I am thinking ... about how behind I am on my 40 Bags in 40 Days Lent challenge. A super busy weekend and then a cruddy cold zapped my time and energy.

I am thankful ... that I feel much better today after several days in a row of that yucky cold.

One of my favorite things ... is when I am struggling with a particular issue and then God speaks to me directly through scripture. Seek and you will find.

I am creating ... thoughts and ideas for our softball season rapidly approaching. I am coaching this year!

I am watching ... lots of DVR'd shows. I have also started watching House of Cards on Netflix while I run on the treadmill.

I am wearing ... pjs and robe now. Workout clothes in a few minutes. And then I'll shower and put on some jeans, a sweatshirt, and probably Ugg boots to do my senior citizen meal delivery.

I am reading ... The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin. 

I am listening to ... The sound of my air purifier and my diffuser sputtering as it empties the last of its contents. And dogs snoring.

I am hoping ... to get caught up on some housework and laundry today and get our bread baked for the week.

I am learning ... that is best to just keep my opinions to myself most times.

In the kitchen ... something is stinking in my refrigerator and I cannot figure out what it is. I have pulled everything out twice and can't find the culprit. Yet, each time I open it I smell something funky. 

In the schoolroom ... Instead of taking off a full week for Spring Break I told the kids that we would just take off five random days between now and the end of our school year. Yesterday was one of those days after a crazy busy weekend of basketball. That pre-scheduled day off worked out great because I felt so rotten yesterday. Back to the books today!

Board Room ... I love this idea for the pots on my front porch! They would smell amazing and I could harvest right out my front door.

Post Script ... Sadly, author Amy Krouse Rosenthal passed away yesterday of Ovarian cancer at the age of 55. She wrote an amazing article called "You May Want to Marry My Husband" that I just adore. What a sad day for her family.

Shared Quote ... I actually dreamed last night that I forgot to take my cell phone with me somewhere when we really needed it. Then I saw this today and literally laughed out loud because I have actually done this!!

A Moment from my Day ... We have been doing a whole lot of basketball lately. Basketball is a long season, starting the first of November. We have one 3 on 3 tournament and another team tournament scheduled before we end our season. This is the last year for Brynne to play rec basketball, and she is going to miss it so much! Her coach has been amazing and has instilled in her a real love of basketball. She is ready for junior high basketball because of him. (In fact, I blame him for her going back to public school. She just cannot not play basketball. It is now in her soul.) There were over 15 girls who played basketball this year for 5th and 6th grade, mostly 6th graders. That required the coach to divide up the tournament team (the team that played together last year) to have two equal-skilled teams. Brynne's team won second in their conference in both the regular season and in the conference tournament. The other team finished 3rd in both. It has been such a fun ride! I am so incredibly proud of Brynne and her skill and character when on the court.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

What is one area of your life where you're a perfectionist? Is that a good thing?

This is kind of a hard one! I would say that I don't think I am a perfectionist, but I have a feeling my family would object and start hurling examples. I know that I like my day to go a certain way and when it doesn't I get my feathers ruffled. One thing I do obsess about all day every day, though, is my couch pillows. I want them on the couch properly so I reposition them several times a day (and sometimes pick them up off the floor. Really, people?).

What's something you find perfectly ridiculous?

Oh so much. Mostly it's people and their need to have a cause when it eventually becomes clear that they don't even really know what they are standing up for except just to be making a point (and an ass of themselves, ahem!). i.e. Colin Kaepernick and his National Anthem fiasco, and I could name oh. so. many. others. Enjoy the UK, Miley Cyrus!

What's a skill you've developed by way of that old fashioned saying, 'practice makes perfect?'

Running. Running was something I kind of started out of necessity ... I either jogged with Crusoe or he drug me around the block. Getting to where I could run a mile without stopping was one of my defining moments (in fact I was just a few feet from the end of it when said Crusoe decided he needed to stop and take a poop, so I drug him to the end). I kept at it, and I remember the exact day that I realized that I wasn't winded after running a mile and just kept going. I have run some 5Ks and a 4-mile run. I would say that I am far from perfect at running ... I am slow and not always motivated. But I have hit a really good groove where I run 2-3 miles about 4 days a week, and it feels good, and I actually enjoy it. I am finding new ways of extending my endurance, increasing my pace, and taking care of my body.

What's your idea of a perfect breakfast?

One that I don't have to cook. Ha! If I could choose I would go to a brunch buffet at a nice restaurant. My plate would include an egg casserole, biscuits and gravy, sausage, some fruit, and a cheese danish. And lots of coffee!

What's a trip, holiday, vacation, or day outing you've taken that you'd rate a perfect 10? Tell us why.

I have been on many perfect 10 excursions. So to choose one is extremely difficult! I would have to say the day that Kyndal and Collin got married in Cozumel in 2015 ranks up there with a perfect day/trip/holiday/vacation. The event was flawlessly orchestrated by the coordinator from the moment we stepped off the ship to the ceremony to the cake to the seaside champagne toast to the post-wedding beach day. Everything about it was perfection.

What quote or saying perfectly sums up your life right now? If you can't do perfect, how about one that comes close?

How would you spend $300 today?

If I had to spend it today I'd go to the Amish greenhouse and buy all of my flowers for the spring. However, it's a little early to buy flowers (we are supposed to have snow on Saturday). If I could hold onto the money for a month or so, I would use it to buy future farmhouse stuff at Junkapalooza where I am going at the end of April.

Insert your own random thought here.

Being a mother of adult kids is agonizing. I worry so much more than I ever did when they were little kids. I have one who is trying to sell her house and buy a newer, bigger one that will increase their expenses, so I worry. I have one who is trying to find a job and figure out his future, so I worry. Both of them are good kids, smart, strong, but I still worry. I know they don't understand, and won't until they are parents of their own adult kids. I know they think all I do is harp on them and point out the negatives and feel like I don't support them. But, really, I am their biggest supporter. I am just a mama who is scared to death that her children will be hurt by life. Hug your littles, everybody. One day too soon they will be adults.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Tuesday Coffee Chat

Who is someone you miss?

I have a few friends I don't get to see often enough, and I miss them. I miss my mom when she's in Florida for several months at a time. I miss Rick and the kids when one of us is away. But, to be honest, I have not had a lot of real loss of loved ones in my life.

There is only one person I think about often and truly miss, and that's my Grandma Alice. I especially miss her in the month of March because her birthday was on St. Patrick's Day.

At my Grandma's funeral I shared that she was the only person in my life who had never disappointed me. She was a tough old gal, but there was no question in my mind how much she loved me.

She was the grandma who had the family dinners where she served everyone while she stood at the kitchen counter to eat (plus she made the best chicken dinner on the planet). We spent the night with my grandma most Saturday nights. We would play double solitaire, watch The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, wind the clock before bed, and take turns sleeping with her. She always woke up in the middle of the night unable to sleep and would turn on her lamp to read. She rose before dawn on Sunday mornings to sit at the kitchen table and prepare her Sunday school lesson. Then she took us to church.

My grandma attended a lot of my events, which was nice, but mostly she just welcomed us in her home. I have fond memories of picking and snapping green beans, playing with her dog, and she had the most amazing azalea bush in her backyard. (I transplanted some of it last year and I am praying it survived the winter.)

I have several things of my grandma's that reminds me of her every day. That old clock we used to wind is in my sitting room. I use her metal measuring spoons and measuring cups every time I cook. (I played with those spoons and cups when I was a baby, and now my grandson will get to play with them.) I cook my eggs in her extremely well-seasoned cast iron skillet every morning. My dresser top is filled with all things that were my grandma's ... the antique plates that hold my jewelry, the mirror frame that my mom made when she worked at a frame shop when she was a young woman that held my grandma's makeup, her antique brush and mirror, statues of a man and woman that I have had in every one of my houses, a small framed picture that I retrieved from her house when she went into the nursing home. My most treasured possession is her Bible.


One thing I regret is that I didn't talk to her enough. I didn't ask about what she was doing during World War II, how she was raised, things she did for fun when she was a girl, dreams she had, goals she met, etc. I learned a smattering of things about her through the years but I never sat and had an intentional conversation with her about her life. By the time I was really old enough to understand the importance of that, she was aging and conversations were a little difficult.

How I wish she was here so we could just talk.

Monday, March 6, 2017

A Week in the Life

Today I am going to combine my Weekly Wrap-up (actually two weeks worth) with a post on what it's like to be in our homeschool in a typical week.

Quite honestly, we are in such an "ordinary" groove that I really don't have a very exciting wrap-up post to put up each week. I struggle to find creative ways to share that we did this, this, and this and that was our week.

What I have learned about my kids in this middle school stage is that they like routine, they don't care a thing about bells and whistles in their learning, they love me to read to them, and they get the most learning out of educational television shows and videos.

We have some daily non-negotiables in reading, writing, and math. I am a language arts freak so we do lots of grammar, spelling, writing (including cursive), copywork, and reading. Other subjects get sprinkled into our day, mostly dictated by someone's personal interest.

The only real difference between this year and years past is that we are preparing Brynne to re-enter public school next year. She went to public school for pre-k and kindergarten (for 6 weeks) in Oklahoma before we brought her home for her schooling. She's been home since then. But, Brynne plays all the sports, and plays them well. Recreational sports end after 6th grade in our little Missouri town; so in order for her to continue to play sports with the school starting next year she will have to attend public school. It's not a school thing, it's a Missouri sports organization thing ... to participate in any state-sanctioned sports team (school), she has to attend the school. On the one hand we are extremely bummed because Brynne really enjoys being homeschooled. But, on the other hand we know that she will be just fine in public school. The school is small, she has tons of friends already, she is a "school-y" kid so will adjust well to the requirements of school, she is extremely smart, and she is outgoing and determined. Really, I am the one who will have to do the most adjusting. I love her so much and will miss her. She's a great student and a great person.

So, what does a week look like here at our school:

Most days are the same ....

6:30 a.m. - Mom is up for coffee, quiet time, Bible study, computer time, exercise, showering, and getting ready for the day.

9:00 a.m. - Kids are up for breakfast and to get ready for the day.

10:00 a.m. - We all pile into the living room for spelling, CNN 10 (anyone else disappointed with the change from CNN Student News?), copywork, read aloud time (currently the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series), grammar, group read aloud from McGuffey's, and personal reading.

Noonish-1:00 p.m. - Lunch. The kids disappear to their rooms and devices with their lunches. I do the same and maybe do a little housework.

After lunch - We gather back in the living room for math, astronomy, Greek Mythology, Missouri History, and usually some kind of research or a television show we are watching together (right now we are researching historical events from the show Timeless and then watching the episode, enjoying a weekly episode of The Zoo, and researching biomes and then watching an episode of The Wheel.) We typically end the day with more personal reading.

3:00-4:00 p.m. - We call it a day.

Evenings - The kids usually retreat to their rooms for personal time. Eli's consists mostly of playing his Xbox and watching YouTube. Brynne usually has some kind of sports practice. Right now it's basketball and running club, but will soon transition into softball.

I have found that I can leave the kids to themselves more and more to take personal responsibility for their work. I can leave them a list of things to accomplish and know that it gets done.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays - I leave the house from 11 a.m. - Noon each of those days to deliver meals to Senior Citizens in our town. The kids usually do their spelling, copywork, and personal reading while I am gone.

Wednesdays - Eli has speech therapy in another town at 9:15 a.m., so we get started with school as soon as we get back home.

Mondays and Thursdays - We end school at 2:45 p.m. because Brynne has Girls on the Run club from 3-4:30 p.m.

Thursdays - Eli's friend Nolan comes over at 3:00 p.m. for some enrichment time. The boys are watching Where on Earth is Carmen San Diego and charting her travels and jotting down facts about the geographical locations she visits. Then they get in some play time.

Fridays - We take it easy on Fridays getting caught up on anything we didn't get completed during the week, watching some extra videos, playing some games, and doing a little more reading. We have busy weekends with sports so we try to wind down on Fridays. I go grocery shopping every other week so the kids are here all day by themselves with a list of things to accomplish. They do a great job on their own.

Then we wash, rinse, and repeat.

We roll through our weeks at a nice pace, accomplishing everything we set out to accomplish, and generally feel really good about all we are learning. I have no complaints, and I can't think of anything I would do differently at this stage in our schooling. Everyone seems happy and satisfied with our level of learning.

I am just trying to cherish the days we have left with both kids here at home for their schooling, because next year things will look so different.

2016-2017 School Hours Logged: 701 hours, including 151.75 hours outside home. Plus Summer 2016 Hours Logged: 70.75 hours, including 27 hours outside home.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

'Slow and steady wins the race' ... Tell us about a time this was true in your own life.

A healthy lifestyle is definitely something that I believe should be done slowly and steadily so that our ways become life-changing instead of a quick, temporary fix. This is something I am working so hard to teach my children and to work out in my own life.

'As slow as molasses' ... Do you like molasses? How about maple syrup? Caramel? Butterscotch? What's your favorite of the slow moving treats mentioned here, and what's your favorite food made with that sweet treat?

Molasses? Yes. Maple syrup? Not really. Caramel? Yes. Butterscotch? Yes. Caramel is a favorite overall, but I absolutely love molasses cookies.

Your favorite slow song?

Soul Provider by Michael Bolton

Your favorite thing to make in a slow cooker or crock pot?

Beef stroganoff.

'You may delay, but time will not.' ~ Benjamin Franklin. Are you more a hurrier or a delayer when it comes to unpleasant tasks that need doing? What are you currently either delaying or hurrying to get through this week or month?

Totally a delayer, every single time. I put everything off to the last second, and I work best under pressure. I have several things I am wanting to do, but until I feel pressured into doing it, I probably won't .... power wash my house, clean out my hall closet, clean up and purge the remainder of the basement, make Dawson's bedroom into an inviting guest bedroom. There is more, I assure you, but these are very pressing.

Tell us three things you encounter regularly or even just occasionally that you find to be annoyingly slow.

Traffic, my coffee pot when I forget to set my timer before I go to bed, anything and everything when I am in a hurry (see previous question about me being a delayer).

March is National Craft Month. Are you crafty? Tell us something crafty you'll try in the next thirty-one days. Or something crafty you'd like to try or wish you had the skill to make happen.

I would say I'm pretty crafty. I would like to redo the finish on the coffee table I have in the basement to use in our living room (AGAIN, see the question above about me being a delayer. Yep. Every single time.)

Insert your own random thought here.

My sweet grandson, Bennett, turned 6 months old this past week. He is such a joy and delight to our lives, and I am so blessed to be able to see him and kiss him and snuggle him every day. He is beautiful and happy and smart and healthy and perfect. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tuesday Coffee Chat

I'm Tuesday-ing and Coffee Chatting a little earlier than normal these days.

At the end of last year I decided to get serious about doing those four things each morning that always make my day go better: getting up early for coffee and quiet time, studying my Bible, exercising, and getting ready (from mascara to shoes), hopefully all before the kids get up to start their day. My start time was 7:00 a.m., but I found that I was feeling rushed. So last week I started setting my alarm for 6:30 a.m. Funny thing is, I actually wake up before then anyway. Now I am just being intentional about actually getting out of bed, or at least getting my cup of coffee and climbing back in bed for my quiet time.

So let's Chat on this Tuesday:

Who do you trust most?

I don't like this topic. The short answer is: No one. There are lots of long answers, a long answer for every human I know, but I choose not to share.

So I'll leave it at this ... I think we are too infallible as humans to be trustworthy.

Think about it. Is there really, truly any one person who would not under any circumstances betray you or your trust in some way? I don't think we are capable of it! We can try, but we fail. How many times a day, week, month, year do we look back on our own reaction to something and say, "Why did I do that? Why did I say that? Why did I react that way?" Our human frailties cause us to react in ways we never, ever thought we would. And in the process of that we betray someone.

Each person in my life has betrayed my trust in some way, and not necessarily because they meant to do it.

The Bible continually instructs us to trust in God and God alone. Nowhere does it tell us to trust people, but only Him.

Only in God can we trust. Only in God can we take our greatest fears, weaknesses, confessions and KNOW that they will not be handled in a hurtful way.

It may seem cynical of me to say that I do not trust people. But, really, I think it's unfair to put that much pressure on any one person, to hold him or her up to a standard that he or she cannot meet. Instead, I choose to trust God, love people, and forgive them when they fail me as I hope they forgive me when I fail them.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Have you ever been fishing? Did you catch a fish? If so did you keep it or throw it back? If you haven't been fishing is that something you'd like to try? Fish out of water, big fish in a small pond, living in a fishbowl, packed in like sardines, this is a fine kettle of fish, plenty of fish in the sea, fish or cut bait ... which fishy phrase most recently applies to some area of your life?

When I was a little girl I loved to go fishing with my dad. My dad would do work for the Amish in exchange for us being able to fish their ponds. Some of my best memories with my dad are when he would take me fishing. I don't remember if we would keep the fish or thrown them back. There is a lot of fishing being done at my parents' lake house, and we definitely keep those fish for meals. Brynne always has Collin catch her fresh fish to fry for her birthday dinner. On our 17 acres we have a pond that is crammed with fish. I am looking forward to all of the fishing that will be done there. Speaking of those 17 acres, I am getting more and more excited for the time when we are able to start building our new farmhouse. For the past several months we have definitely been packed in [this house] like sardines, especially in regard to sharing only one bathroom. Space is going to be a great thing!

What's something you're always fishing for in your purse, wallet, desk, or kitchen junk drawer?

In my purse, my keys. In my wallet, my debit card (that I never put back in the same place). In my desk, tape. And in my kitchen junk drawer, bag clips. I do lots of fishing.

Your favorite fish tale or movie? 

I guess I would have to say Finding Nemo. It's a movie our family quotes often.

Are you sunrise, daylight, twilight or night? Explain why you chose your answer.

Definitely sunrise. I love the promise of a new day and love to be sitting alone in the quiet enjoying it.

What's the oldest piece of clothing you own and still wear?

My bathrobe! I bought it to wear to a Polar Express Christmas party at our church when Kyndal was in the 6th grade. She would have been 12 years old. She is now 22.

We've got one more month of (officially) winter here in the Northern Hemisphere. Are you feeling the need for a getaway? What's been the best and worst part of your winter so far?

I just got back from a weeklong trip to Hawaii to visit my friend Cheryl. It was a great trip and just what I was needing. So, I am not really needing another getaway. The worst part of winter? No snow! The best part of winter? Cold days in front of my faux fireplace covered up in a blanket.

The Wednesday Hodgepodge lands on National Margarita Day ... will you be celebrating? Frozen or on the rocks? Are you a Jimmy Buffet fan? If so, what's your favorite JB tune?

Today I just so happened to play cards with some friends, and we did have margaritas! I love my margaritas on the rocks without salt. Yum! I am not really a Jimmy Buffet fan, so "Margaritaville" is the only song I can even really recall.

Insert your own random thought here.

I recently wrote a post about my 11 year old daughter and her quest to eat healthier and, hopefully, lose some weight by using the food plan set out in the book Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right: The Food Solution that Lets Kids be Kids by Joanna Dolgoff. Brynne has been on this plan for 4 months and has taken total personal responsibility for it with supervision by her dad and I. It has been obvious that she has lost weight. But more importantly, it has been obvious that she has changed her approaches to food. She has learned so much, and taught us so much. I have been so incredibly proud of her! She has been so excited to realize how much better she feels when eating a healthy diet. And it has drastically improved her effectiveness in sports as she is able to run faster without getting winded and is so much stronger! Recently we weighed her and she has lost just under 15 pounds! It has taken her from the obese range to right at the edge of the healthy range. In fact, she is right at the place where we are going to be adjusting her eating plan to increase her daily calories to make sure she maintains her weight instead of continuing to lose it. We took a couple of photos today with her wearing the same shorts and shirt she was wearing on the day that she first told me she wanted to try to lose some weight. I will let one of the photos do the talking. When she saw the side-by-side photos, she got a little teary, and so did I. I am so proud of her for taking control of her body and taking care of it to the best of her ability. And more importantly, she is proud of herself.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Weekly Wrap-up ~ The Flu Week

Our week was a bit derailed this week with the stomach flu. Kyndal and Bennett had it over the weekend, Brynne had it on Sunday, Eli on Monday, and then it circled back around to Brynne again on Wednesday. On Wednesday the young man who lives with us ended up with it, and then Dawson called me from Oklahoma and said he had taken it there with him. With a sore throat or stuffy nose or a cough, you can typically muddle through a school day even if it's just doing some extra reading or watching educational videos. But the stomach flu? Nope. That constitutes a real day off.

On the days the kids weren't sick, however, we were able to buckle down and get some real work done.

We started reading our new read alouds: The Titan's Curse from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and No Talking by Andrew Clements. Brynne continues to read from the Warriors series by Erin Hunter and is on her 24th book in the series. Eli is still reading Watership Down. It's a slow read for him, but he says he is enjoying it. We finished Hana's Suitcase, and were supposed to go see the play on Sunday, but we had to cancel because of that nasty flu.

We started our new volume from Fix It Grammar from IEW, "Frog Prince, or Just Deserts". We started a new volume of Souring with Spelling, which is our slow and easy way of starting the day. We read aloud out of McGuffey's and did daily copy work in cursive handwriting of quotes to celebrate Black History Month. We got back into our Missouri history textbook and studied about Missouri after the Civil War.

Astronomy had us studying Auriga, Lepus, Monoceros, Cetus, Pisces, and Aries, and we read about Zeus and his family and Danaus, Perseus and The Gorgon and The Golden Fleece in Greek Mythology. We also did research on Jesse James and the Lone Ranger to prepare for the viewing of our weekly Timeless episode.

We didn't get back into Math this week, and made a decision to make a change to get us through the rest of the year. I'll be sharing about that next week.

We are certainly hoping for a calmer upcoming homeschool week!

Additionally, Eli has had a great couple of weeks of bowling and is on track for state tournament, and Brynne has had some excellent basketball games.

Brynne started her new year of Girls on the Run, training for a 5k in May. And Eli still attends speech therapy once a week for his stuttering. He is gaining confidence everyday and getting so much better using his techniques. I am really proud of the kids for all of their hard work.

2016-2017 School Hours Logged: 631.5 hours, including 135.25 hours outside home. Plus Summer 2016 Hours Logged: 70.75 hours, including 27 hours outside home.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

What do/did you call your grandparents? If it's something unusual tell us the story behind the name. If you're a grandparent what do your grands call you? Who chose your moniker?

My maternal grandmother was "Old Grandma" and my paternal grandmother was "Other Grandma". That's what I called them when I was little to distinguish them because one was older than the other. I don't recall ever saying that to either of them. But as I got older I called them Grandma Alice and Grandma Joan. My paternal grandfather was Grandpa and my maternal grandfather died when I was two. I am Nana to Bennett. My daughter, Kyndal, gave me that name for her dog many years ago so it just transferred to Bennett.

Ever taken a road trip along the California Coast? If so what was the highlight of your trek? If not, any desire to do so? If you were to take a trip along the California Coast what's one attraction you'd have on your must-see list?

On my birthday a couple of years ago we were driving up the Pacific Coast Highway while on a family vacation driving from San Diego to San Francisco. It was absolutely beautiful! The highlight, however, was when it was over, unfortunately. I took one for the team and rode in the backseat so that Brynne could sit in the front seat because she gets carsick. But I also get carsick, so I was queasy the whole time. The views made it more than bearable.

What are three things you don't know how to do?

Sew, bake a good cookie, master the electronics in our house.

Tom Peters is quoted as saying "Celebrate what you want to see more of." If that's true what will you celebrate and more importantly, how will you celebrate?

I would like to see more happy, intact families ... you know, mom and dad and kids all together with smiles on their faces enjoying each other and supporting each other and being that safe place to land. When I am out and about I see a lot of disjointed families, unhappiness, anger, impatience, undisciplined kids and even more undisciplined parents. I feel like we celebrate our family almost every day. Being together and a team is very important to us. We make our time together a priority, support each other in whatever activities of which we are involved, allow each other to have the freedom to be the people God created us to be, but hold each other accountable when we are not holding ourselves up to His standards. To celebrate that I make sure to have family traditions, especially on holidays, and provide lots of family dinners at home. We do a lot of watching movies together and playing board games. We are pretty cocooned within the walls of our home in order to protect our family. It's important to us.

Thursday (February 16) is National Almond Day. Do you like almonds? Which would you prefer -- an Almond Joy or a macaroon? What's something you make that calls for almonds?

I do love almonds, and I would pick an Almond Joy over a macaroon, but I doubt I will indulge in one on Thursday, unless it's in one of my little homemade dark chocolate bites that has a sprinkle of dried cranberries and almonds.

What does Saturday morning look like at your house?

If it's in the winter it involves getting up for bowling league for Eli and basketball games for Brynne. Other than that, it's sleeping in and being as lazy as can be.

Share with us a favorite book you've read this winter.

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book by Wendy Welch. This is a memoir of a man and woman who, on a whim, purchase an old house in the small town of Big Stone Gap, Virginia, and turn it into a used book store. If you are a bibliophile, and especially if you are an introvert, you will love this book. It's cozy. Wendy even has a blog that I follow. I would love to be able to visit her and her husband there someday.

Insert your own random thought here.

Our family has been nailed with the stomach flu this past week! First it started with Kyndal and then Bennett and then Eli and then Brynne and then Chad (who lives with us) and then cycled back to Brynne. It's nasty and so stinking contagious that you might want to wash your hands right after reading this so you don't catch it. So far I have only felt a few middle-of-the-night hours of dizziness and slight nausea. Hoping we can go into this next weekend puke free.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tuesday Coffee Chat

LOVE. Who or what are you lovin' lately.

My family is the most important thing in the world to me. I love my husband and my children with all my heart. And this little Valentine has certainly made my heart swell just a little more this year.

Our sweet Bennett Matthew will be six months old next week. His mama and daddy had some cute Valentine photos taken to celebrate this milestone. Yes, he is as precious as he looks.

And we are in love.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Weekly Wrap-up ~ Using Television for School

Last week we resumed our school year after our long Christmas break. We really enjoyed our break this year, but it went by so fast! Because our break was so long (calendared that way) we really had a hard time jumping back in on Monday. In fact, we didn't. I had a blockage issue with my ears and spent the morning at Urgent Care. By the time I got home all I wanted to do was rest. So we started on Tuesday instead.

We took it pretty easy on ourselves all week doing lots of reading.

We also watched t.v.

What? Yes, we use some television shows as jumping off places for learning.

I have blogged before about how we use the show Timeless to help us research American historical events. We see what event the show will be about, fully research that event, and then watch the show. We have been so pleased at how historically correct the show is, although taking some liberties in some of the characters to make it a little more fun. We can pick out what is true and what is not true based on our research. We have studied some events that I know would not have come up in our regular studies. This is the kids' most favorite thing we do all week. It's a highlight of our Mondays.

Another show we are now watching to help us study is The Wheel on Discovery. The Wheel features six people who are each dropped into a drastic EcoZone in South America for an undisclosed period of time. They are each given an identical backpack at the beginning of the total 60 days that holds supplies (though scant) they might need and only 3 days of food rations. At the full and half moon they are moved to their next EcoZone and their previous location is wiped clean for the next person. So far none of the people have figured out that their move date is linked to the moon, so they have no idea when they will be leaving. They have to find shelter, food, water, build a fire, and just survive the physical and emotional challenges, as well as keep from being eaten by the lurking animal predators. Any person can tap out at any time. We have started watching one episode of The Wheel and then the kids research one of the EcoZones (Biomes): Tundra, Wetlands, Island, Rainforest, Bush Plains, Mountains. They are required to provide me with: the location of the biome, climate, seasons, environment, plants and animals and their adaptations to the environment, and then analyze whether or not they would want to live there or even try to survive there for 8-16 days. (We use this worksheet.) And now this is a highlight to our Fridays.

We will soon also start watching the show The Zoo on Animal Planet. It is a docuseries that follows the inner workings of the Bronx Zoo. I am not sure how we will use this show in our researching, yet, but imagine it will involve choosing one of the animals featured and researching that animal. Or, heck, this might just be one of our "Freedom Friday" activities and we won't do anything but just watch the episode. I will figure that out soon. It premieres February 18th.

We are really working on our researching skills this year, and these shows give us a little direction and just make it a little more fun.

We plan to resume our full schedule of lessons this week, although the stomach flu hit this weekend so I am not sure how many of us will be ready for it. Let's hope for the best.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

ASAP typically stands for 'as soon as possible'. What else could it stand for in your life right now?

'As Sweet as Pie'. Look at this sweet baby. He is definitely a highlight to every day, seeing him grow and learn and smile that precious smile! Being his Nana is the absolute best!

Are you the last person to speak up in a group or the first to have an idea? Why do you suppose that is? Is it a good thing or no?

I am a speaker upper, definitely. Even if I tell myself that I am going to be quiet, I don't. I have no idea why. Although I am an introvert, I am not shy. I do so much thinking and have so many ideas swirling around in my head that they just come spewing out when I'm in a group. I am overly opinionated, and I guess I just think I know something about everything. That's really annoying to people, I bet. I just can't be quiet!

What do you remember best about being 12?

Well, that would have been my 7th grade year. I probably remember the least about that year than any other. I would have gone to Junior High that year so I would have really been in a transition year. That was before boys became very important, so I probably spent a lot of time with my friend, Becky. Before we got to high school she and I spent a lot of time together, hanging out cooking and watching old movies. It was a good, simple time before things got complicated as a teenager.

January 18th is National Winnie the Pooh Day. Which character do you relate to the most, and why?

Well, the quiz I took HERE says I am Rabbit, and I have to say it is pretty accurate! Might explain question Number 2 up there.

What's an app you use that helps simplify or make life easier for you in some way?

I am not a big app user. I am a pen and paper kind of gal. I just have the basic apps, mostly for social media and tools for working out. But I do have an app for my bank where I can easily do all my banking.

San Francisco (CA), San Diego (CA), San Juan (PR), San Antonio (TX), Sanibel (FL) ... you have an all expenses paid long weekend to one of these destinations. Which one do you choose and why?

I have been to all of these except Sanibel. I would love to go there to get a different taste of Florida than what we get when we go to my parents' house in Pensacola.

Share with us a song that makes you feel nostalgic? For what?

The other night I was at a Junior High basketball game at my alma mater. The team was warming up to a cd that, I swear, they pulled out of the 1980's drawer in the locker room (except it would have been a cassette tape). It took me back .... way back! "Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def Leppard was one of them. Oh, yeah. Feel the vibes.

Insert your own random thought here.

I am so excited to be going to Hawaii in five days to visit my blogging friend, Cheryl. We have never met in person, but have corresponded for several years. We often do Bible studies together and e-mail each other for accountability and encouragement and prayer. I know that there are several of you who have made In Real Life friends with those you have met in this blogging world. I have, too. So you know the power of these relationships. I cannot wait to hug my dear friend around her neck (and sit on the beach drinking fruity beverages).