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Weekly Wrap-up ~ A School Week in Pensacola, Florida

In our regular life this week…

Our regular life includes 10 days in Pensacola, Florida, at my parents' vacation home. We are one block away from the Bayou Grande, across the bay from the National Aviation Station (NAS Pensacola). We are thoroughly enjoying our time so far, especially since the weather has been in the mid-60's to the mid-70's here and it's 30 degrees and snowing in Missouri. Although being here is certainly a vacation, it's "regular life" for us this time each year. We have a lot of fun. But mostly we just live here like we live at home, with much better weather and a change in flora and fauna. It's amazing!

In our homeschool this week…

You might think that we would call this a week of vacation, our week we have spent in Florida. But, it's not! Yeah, we have had FUN in the SUN, but we have also had school. Why? Because, we do unit studies and when you are in Pensacola, you should do unit studies on seashells and many, many, other Gulf Coast, Floridian, things.

We have spent the week using Amanda Bennett's Download-n-Go unit, Sunny Seashells. On Monday, we learned about the three main types of mollusks: sea snails, clams, and scallops. We learned specifically about giant clams, shells in Ireland, and safe and responsible shell collecting. In the afternoon we headed to the downtown pier. There we saw pelicans! That was exciting! We also learned about the history of Pensacola by a statue at the pier, about how it was tossed around between Spain, France and England.

On Tuesday our seashell study had us learning the differences between univalves and bivalves. We focused on hermit crabs and learned the parts of a shell and how the mantle creates the shell (of course, the hermit crab does not have this). We studied shells in Australia. Then we went to our favorite beach at the Pensacola Lighthouse where we rode waves, observed seagulls and sandpipers, and made tide pools in the sand to protect our sandcastles from the waves.

On Wednesday we took a break from seashells to go to National Naval Aviation Museum at NAS Pensacola. This is one of our favorite places to visit while here, so this year we decided to try to learn something new. We spent time learning about the U.S.S. Enterprise, which is the most highly-decorated aircraft carrier of WWII. We toured the new 1943 replica military town with a home, store, barber shop, and more. We followed the history of aircraft carriers. And we learned about the naval aviators who were stranded in a raft for 34 days in 1942, and how they survived. You can read all about it in the book, The Raft by Robert Trumbull. I'll be reading this book soon.

On Thursday, we learned more about tide pools, whelks, oysters, how pearls are made and scallops. We walked down to the beach on the Bayou Grande to see what shells we could find. We weren't overly optimistic because shelling in Pensacola is not that exciting. But, we were thrilled to find clams, oysters, scallops, and a couple of tiny univalves! Then Brynne and I found barnacles, both open and closed. Brynne and I actually squealed when we found the scallops and univalves.

Today we took another break from seashells because the kids wanted to tour the Historic Pensacola Village. We went on a guided tour and saw a middle class home owned by a wharf owner, a wealthy Victorian home owned by the daughter of the Barkleys, the Old Christ's Church, and a very small lower-class home with an outdoor kitchen and garden area. The kids watched a woman dressed in period dress prepare the fire (actually, we came back a couple of times because it takes about two hours). We also watched her make the "sponge" for her bread that she will actually bake tomorrow (gotta rise overnight). We spent some time on a self-guided tour of a couple more historic buildings depicting a freed slave woman's home (and there were display cases holding shackels, newspaper ads of property for sale including slaves, and even a KKK patch), a USO woman's home, and a home from the 1920's. We stopped for lunch and gelato in, yet another, historic building, and ended our day touring the Barkley house. What a day of learning!!!

Tomorrow we will finish our seashell study. Shhhh .... don't tell the kids that it's Saturday.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Yesterday we saw a plumber because our sewer backed up. (What is it with me and sewer backups lately?) We actually thought we might have to pack it up and go home 6 days early, but he was able to fix it enough for us to stay. Thank goodness!

I am hoping to be able to meet up with Michelle at Just Me! before I leave next week. I need for her to e-mail me her number at so we can make plans. Michelle, if you are reading this, E-MAIL me!!

Who we are NOT seeing this week are the Blue Angels. Good ol' President Obama has made budget cuts in the Navy and the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds have (mostly) been grounded for 2013. That is a huge disappointment because they are so huge in this area and we look forward to seeing them every year. Even my 7 year old does not have an affection for our current president. I wouldn't try to get into a political debate with her, if I were you.

A favorite thing this week was…

Going to the beach at Pensacola Lighthouse. The weather was PERFECT! The kids rode 10,000 waves and built sandcastles. My mom and I just sat and read and watched them have the day of their lives. It was a great day!!

(My pictures of this day are on my little camera, not on a memory card, and I didn't bring that cord. The photos are trapped for now. It's a bummer because there were some great pictures!)

Spending the day touring the Historic Pensacola Village was also really cool.

What's in the kitchen this next week ...

We've had tacos, spaghetti and turkey burgers. We've gone out for BBQ and ordered pizza. We have plans to go back for BBQ again (because kids eat for free that day), and go out this evening. Otherwise, we'll just be cooking at home and trying to use up the rest of the food we bought at the beginning of the week. I don't mind cooking while I am here, because we are all pretty easy eaters.

What we're reading ...

Mom: Vintage Ladybug Farm by Donna Ball. I have finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and will be reading The House at Riverton by Kate Morton starting tomorrow.
Eli: "WWE Magazine" 
Brynne: nothing, but she was mad I didn't bring Buddy (Puppy Place) by Ellen Miles

The kids and I are reading all kinds of seashell and seashore books this week, also. We've read two to three books each day.

Things we're working on…

For me, it's reading as much as possible and sleeping late every day. The kids are working on enjoying themselves and soaking in the sun and fun of Florida. They've also been working on their Family Feud skills. We have been watching a lot of that, lately, and also playing it on the computer.

I’m grateful for…

the men in my life who have made this week away possible for me and the kids. Rick made sure we could afford it financially and Dawson stayed behind to make sure the doggies were taken care of.

I rewarded my kids this week by…

doing something fun each afternoon if they put in some school time in the mornings. We have gone to the beach and the playground. We went to the downtown marina area and today we went back downtown to go on a Historic Pensacola tour of some old houses, a church, and the Barkley mansion. We've relaxed, we've played, we've watched t.v., and gone on walks. We're going back to the beach another day, and out to eat a couple of times. And we had some lunch out and gelato.

Yes, I was there, too! (and so was my mom) ...

A windy, not-so-pretty hair day.

Things you might have missed at Journey to Excellence ...

A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…

We are happily linking up this week at the following sites:

Homegrown Learners


  1. Sun. Water. WARMTH! (Although your mom looks cold! Maybe the wind? LOL) Sounds like a wonderful way to relax! Gelato! Yum!

    1. Yes, my mom is always cold. She HATES wind! And it was windy and chilly that day!

  2. Incredible learning for a vacation! I love it! I am jealous of the weather, though. We just had another foot of snow this week.

    Oh, and for our upcoming trip to D.C. my kids were pretty upset that White House tours are cancelled. :)

    1. Oh, my. I'll have to tell Brynne about the cancelled tours at the White House. That will make her MAD!

  3. Nicole what a fabulous vacation and all of the hands on learning is something that will really stick with the kids. It sounds like wonderful memories were made by all of you! Miss you but it sounds like like in MO is wonderful.

    1. Miss you guys, too, Jennifer! We're not missing Missouri this week, though. Yucky weather!! Hoping it's all melted off by the time we get back next week.

  4. Learning as a lifestyle...
    it's a beautiful thing!! =)

  5. What a wonderful blend of learning, vacation, and family!! It looks like a wonderful week. Kudos to your hubby and son for making it so it could all happen. Thanks for sharing. :)

  6. I am trying really hard not to be jealous of your week, Nicole, as we sit here in an unexpected 3 feet of snow. It looks like a lot of fun - we love the AB unit studies!

  7. I'm so glad you had a good week! I think it's great that they are learning, even while on vacation!


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