Thursday, August 31, 2017


August was ridiculously busy!

Annual week at the lake with Okie friends.

It's a highlight of our summer!

Bennett won Grand Champion Boy in a nearby fair baby contest.

Brynne celebrated her 12th birthday.

The kids and I took a trip to St. Louis to Mastadon State Historic Site
and the Saint Louis Zoo.

Bennett turned ONE!

I treated my nieces and Bennett to Build-a-Bears for their birthdays.

I finally got to start working at our local branch at the library. This was my first
display. I'm the morning librarian. I love it!

Brynne re-entered public school.

Benny had a fun first birthday party!

Rick took the kids to St. Louis to witness the Total Path of the Eclipse.

We started major renovations on our house, including an attic remodel
into a master suite and the ripping off of our roof to put on a new one.

Eli started his 8th grade year homeschooling.

Brynne ended the month (tonight) with a 102.5 degree fever.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Can you believe we're rolling into the Labor Day weekend? What's a project you'll labor over this fall?

Well, I won't exactly be physically laboring over it myself, but I will be supervising it, hearing it constantly, and cleaning up after it. We just started a renovation at our house on Monday turning our attic into a master suite and second living area. Our roof is getting replaced tomorrow. Then we are gutting and completely renovating our one bathroom, tearing down a garage, adding a privacy fence, and installing a new HVAC to our ground floor.

Tell us about the best perks you ever had in a job?

You know, the best thing I can think of was when I had health insurance that I paid an extra $15 a month for (because my employer paid the base cost) that had a maximum yearly out-of-pocket amount of $100. Man, those days are over!

August 31st is National South Carolina Day. Have you ever been to SC? Any desire to go? According to Southern Living, these are the top ten things to do in South Carolina ... explore Charleston; bike, golf, or relax on Hilton Head Island; see the beach and boardwalk at Myrtle Beach; visit the state museum in the capital city Columbia; observe the wildlife and natural beauty of the Ace Basin; take a walk or. hop on a trolley and check out Greenville's charming Main Street; visit Fort Sumter where the Civil War began; stroll through Pearl Fryar's Topiary Garden in Bishopville leaving time to check out The Button Museum, also in Bishopville; see Morgan Island (also known as Monkey Island) - home to nearly 4000 Rhesus monkeys. Which is the most appealing to you today? If you're a SC native, resident, or frequent visitor what would you add to the list?

Take me to Charleston! Then move on to that relaxation on Hilton Head Island, a walk on the beach at Myrtle Beach, and finish it off with a walk through Greenville.

Beef, pork, country-style, barbecued, baby back, spare or short ... your favorite kind of rib? What's a dish you enjoy that really 'sticks to your ribs'?

I am not a huge rib eater or barbecue fan, but I do have a crock pot boneless pork rib recipe with homemade barbecue sauce that is pretty good. That with some cheesy potatoes and garlic sautéed green beans, and I am pretty happy. I would prefer a good meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and corn, however!

What's one important skill you think every person should have? Why?

Car repair. Because it's something you almost always have to pay a lot of money to have done. Wouldn't it be great if we could diagnose our own car problems and fix them without the stress of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars for something we have to have, so we are forced to come up with the money? Even the little issues cost a ton to diagnose and get repaired.

Insert your own random thought here.

Blogging is something that has been hit or miss with me the past couple of years, especially since I opened an Instagram account. It's just so much easier to take a quick snapshot and post a small paragraph about it. But I love blogging! And I want to keep it up. I have so many things I could talk about but then talk myself out of it believing that nobody really wants to hear my jabbering. My confidence level in a lot of areas has been a little squished, and I think that has been reflected in my lack of blogging. Should I post about the things that are on my mind? I haven't yet decided. I have a few ideas to get back into something a little more regular. Maybe I will.

Monday, August 28, 2017

The Big One

On Saturday we celebrated Bennett's First Birthday with family and friends. It was a great party and Kyndal did such a fantastic job with the food and decorations! Bennett had a fun day!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Journey Journal ~ A Successful First Week

Welcome back to another year with Journey Homeschool! It is astonishing to me that we are starting our 8th year of homeschooling! And, yet again, the dynamics of our homeschool environment have changed. Therein lies the beauty.

Eli at the library where I work doing some morning schoolwork.

If you are new here, let's recap: We started homeschooling Dawson when he entered the 8th grade. Kyndal and Eli were in public school and Brynne was starting public school kindergarten. Within six weeks we decided to bring Brynne home for her schooling. So we had two in and two out. We had this arrangement for two years. Then we moved back to Missouri from Oklahoma to a smaller school district. Dawson went back to public school for the 10th grade, Kyndal was a senior in high school, and we brought Eli home to school with Brynne. Again, two in and two out, just a different combination. We had this arrangement for five years. Kyndal and Dawson both graduated from public school and I continued to homeschool Eli and Brynne. This year Brynne is in the 7th grade and we decided to allow her to enter public school. She plays sports and has to attend to be on a school roster. We do not live close enough to any homeschool teams. So this year, it's just Eli and me. And he is an 8th grader, the same age Dawson was when we started this journey. Eli will graduate as a homeschooler and Brynne will likely graduate from public high school (although who knows ... geez!)

Thankful that Brynne already had so many friends
when she started school.

This is why this blog is called Journey to Excellence ~ "The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey and not the destination." Don Williams, Jr.

As education is not just something that happens in a 13+ year time frame in a brick and mortar building, I also blog about everything with our family. We are all growing, changing, and learning. And, boy, have we had some changes going into this new school season!

I am now an active member of the 5 AM Club. It's the only way to
make it all work.

Kyndal has just accepted a new job as the administrative assistant to the administrator of a group of medical clinics in our area. Her husband, Collin, just completed his three-year iron worker apprenticeship and is just hours away from being a journeyman. Dawson has moved to Dallas where he is working two jobs, one at a doggie daycare and another at a recycling company, and working to enlist in the United States Air Force. I recently took a part-time job at the public library in our little town working mornings until 1:00 p.m. Brynne has started public school for the first time in 7 years, and in junior high, no less, to the world of lockers, changing classes, drama, pep rallies, and more. She has volleyball practice at 6:00 a.m. each morning before school. I am training for a 10k. So where's Eli? He is home in the mornings alone doing a list of independent school work. Then I come home in the afternoons and we do our group work together. In two weeks Bennett will be here every afternoon while his mommy works. And tomorrow we are starting a major house renovation. Yikes!

How I load up the dining room table each night so that
we all have what we need the following morning.

With Brynne putting us back on a public school schedule, we have decided to do our homeschooling at much the same time. Since Eli logged summer hours, however, we will get to take some longer breaks than Brynne. Sorry, girl.

I feel like I am packing for a weekend each time I get Brynne
ready for just ONE day of school.

We soft-started school a week ago Thursday. This past week we hit it at full force. It was a little rocky, at first, trying to wrap our heads around our new schedule and responsibilities. We stumbled a few times, squealed into some destinations on two wheels, had to enlist the help of family members to get from Point A to Point B. But by Thursday and Friday we were starting to get it, and I think we have figured out what will work (for now).

Me at the end of a very long day.

This year Journey Journal will, primarily, be about what Eli is doing in his homeschool, with bits thrown in on Brynne's schooling and school activities. Posts about other family events will occur other days of the week.

I love that my kids got phones this year and Snapchat.
I can stalk their photos now! They may end up
blocking me!

Every day each week Eli will be taking an online math class with live lecture and daily problems, doing a grammar lesson, reading out of McGuffey's, reading out of a personal book of his choice, listening to a couple of read alouds from our science and history subjects, and working on writing a magazine with Cover Story. I will not post his progress in these areas unless something big happens. That's just boring to read. But they are the "non-negotiables" and will be happening every day every week.

I had to share this math funny, though. Math is the
demonmator, isn't it?

The majority of our postings will be about what we are studying in science and history. His subjects this year are geology/archaeology and geography through cartography.

Soooo .... without further ado, our first week of school:

Brynne started school on Thursday, August 17th. Her first day of school outfit was packed in her gym bag because she had 6 a.m. volleyball practice. Isn't she cute?

She looked a little ragged once she came out of school. It was a long
day. But, I seriously almost cried when I saw her because she looked
so grown up!!

The Eclipse

What a way to start a school year! Thursday and Friday before the Eclipse, Eli and I crammed a One-week Unit Study into two days.

The Water Cycle



A Total Eclipse saves Bing Crosby in this movie!

Then on Sunday afternoon Rick took the kids to St. Louis to spend the night to be ready to witness the Total Solar Eclipse in the Path of Totality at Washington State Park. (I had to work ... waaaaaa!!)

They had an incredible experience, and I am so glad they got to go! We took Brynne out of school so that she could go. What an education! Washington State Park is home to Native American petroglyphs (rock carvings). There were two archaeologists there who were going to observe the petroglyphs during the Eclipse to see if there were any changes to them.

I got up that morning and ran in a Virtual 5k (so I could get a cool Eclipse 2017 t-shirt!) and then stepped outside with my co-worker at the library to view the beginning of the Eclipse. I got off work just in time to rush home and see it at its peak with Kyndal, Bennett, and my father-in-law who was visiting. SO COOL! We were about 98.5% total, so it was fascinating!

The crescent shadows through the trees.

On Tuesday we hit the books.

In Geology Eli started out learning about the Earth's layers and started on the types of rocks. He did some activities online about soil types and watched Geology Kitchen's "The 3 types of Rocks". We also started reading out of Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry.

In Geography Eli read about the earliest maps, made papyrus paper from corn husks, and drafted an aerial map of his bedroom. He will transfer that to the papyrus this week. He also learned about Mesopotamia, traced current day Iraq and Turkey with the Trigris and Euphrates Rivers, and then drew the same map when it was Mesopotamia using Mapping the World with Art. We read the introduction in Charting the World, and started The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen.

Friends, it's going to be a busy year. I think it will be a lot of fun, if we can survive the exhaustion of it all. Here's to another blessed year of learning!

And sometimes we do schoolwork in the car.