Saturday, August 20, 2016

Reading Allowance

I feel like I've been learning a ton about homeschooling lately.  It's exciting and scary all at the same time.  Maybe it's because we're settling into life in the desert (I wonder how many times I've accidentally said dessert) or maybe it's because I now have a 1st and 4th grader and things are getting real.  I don't know.  One of the things that I've found myself praying for is people to come beside us; people wiser and who have gone on this path before and can direct us the right way.  My knowledge is limited and I humbly accept that my children also need other people in their life to help them grow in ways that I can't.

All that to say, a friend shared with me this blog by Sarah Mackenzie.  It has been encouraging and informative and inspiring to me and was definitely an answer to prayer.  One of her posts was on giving kids a book allowance.  We don't give our kids any allowance, for a list of reasons that is another post, but I loved this idea.  I would LOVE to work on building our home library with good literature, but also know that the kids will be more excited to read if it's something they've chosen themselves.  Another plus is, Alison frequently chooses easy readers at the library because she doesn't want to risk not finishing the book before it's due.  This takes care of that and now she can stress-free enjoy a longer book.

So a few weeks ago, we pulled into the Thrift Store parking lot (we have a really big, fairly nice thrift store down the street) and I handed each kid $1.00.  Next time I'll plan more in advance, but that's all the cash I had and I assumed that we could get get several books for a dollar.  The books weren't as cheap as I thought they would be, but they were each able to pick out a book and were excited to add it to our library.

I bought a couple of classics that were in really good shape for only a few dollars and I got hooked on keeping this book allowance up!  As an added bonus, it was also a good lesson in money management and social skills as they had to interact with the cashier.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Pley Review

I was asked by to write a review for them...I probably should have warned them that I'm not very good at sugar coating my feelings.  The information I received was that they rent out educational toys.  I will admit that I'm not the best at having educational toys on hand; honestly I think they take up a lot of clutter for the short amount of time a child can learn from them and have found other avenues of learning work just as good.  But I thought, "Hey, maybe this will be a good educational resource and I won't have to keep the clutter."  So I agreed.

I was pretty much disappointed from the get-go.  I got all the way through the website, giving some information and then it came time to pick which toy I would receive.  Big let down.  I would not call the toys educational; Barbies and matchbox cars and Legos.  I decided on a Lego set because I knew Eli would be excited about building it, but I was not prepared for the stress that went along with this little blue box.

We opened the box, dumped out the Legos and then I realized, "Oh my goodness, I have to make sure every single tiny Lego gets back in this box!!!".
Then Colin jumped up to the table and asked, "Where's my set to build?" and starts trying to help Eli build which resulted in Lego's all over the floor.

One toy and three kids=everyone unhappy.

Then came the real kicker.  It was completed and he wanted to play with the spaceship but I would let him take it anywhere because I couldn't chance loosing any pieces or getting any of our own Lego's mixed up with it.  Eli quickly became very sad that he couldn't keep it and had to send it back.  AND the amount of money I would have paid to rent this toy, I could have just purchased it new.  I would have much rather bought it than have to count 225 tiny lego pieces to mail back...Oh, that's the other thing, it was another errand I had to run in the 116° weather to mail it back to them.  

All that to say, I probably should have said no.  It was definitely not worth the effort or the time.  To all the other parents out there, DO NOT RENT LEGO'S.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Last Day of School!!!

While everyone is going back to school, we're just finishing up our year and boy, oh boy, were we ready!

Books closed.  Notebooks filed away.  Kindergarten and 3rd grade complete.

I would make an excuse for my sons not having clothes on, but it's 118° outside and I don't blame them one bit.

Also had to document our last day of working on our bodies for biology.  It only took us a year and we didn't get as much done as I wanted, but we learned a little something.

P.S. I got the most amazing app for our iPad for learning about the body and I would highly recommend it.  It's called 'My Incredible Body'.  Check it out!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hard working kids, part 2

In part with that entitlement, my kids often feel entitled to my "help" at any given moment.  I put help in quotations because really, they want me to do a percentage of the work for them.  They feel entitled for things to be easy.

How we were working, wasn't working.  As Albert Einstein said, it was insanity; we were doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  So this week, I gave the kids each a piece of paper and on it said my expectations for the week; what they were allowed to watch/do for screen time and what schoolwork needed to be done.  However, I was not going to tell them when to do the schoolwork, it was their responsibility to get it done within the week and there would be consequences if it didn't get done.

I thought Alison would love it, but yet again surprised me with her reaction.  She didn't like it that I wouldn't tell her when to work (I would tell her what we had going on for the day and would suggest she make a plan for when she was going to work).  I was also surprised by the other venues she chose to work hard at.  All of the sudden, she asked if she could make a smoothie and for the first time, she got out the vitamix cookbook, followed the instructions and made the smoothie all by herself.  Last summer, when Ben was deployed, we went through the whole cookbook and made every recipe and rated them.  I have no idea why now, but I'm so glad we did.  Clearly it gave her the confidence to use the Vitamix herself and she knew which recipes to use.

She turned into a smoothie making machine and wanted to make everyone smoothies all the time.  Watching the olympics was also a great picture of what hard work looks like!

Then one day this week, she made me a menu and asked if she could make me lunch.  After I put my order in, she made up a grocery list and asked if I could take her to the store.

It's not at all what I was looking for in her, but what a great surprise.  Not only was she working hard, but she was serving our family while doing it.  As for school, there were plenty of tears this week as she realized how hard it is to work on her own without me instructing her, BUT she did fabulous.  She did better than she's done all year and I am so proud of her.

As we closed our books yesterday and celebrated the completion of this crazy year, I wished I could have gone back a few weeks ago.  I wish I would have just stopped then.  I confess that I pushed through because I wanted all the boxes checked for the year and I should have just left things unfinished and made smoothies with my kids.  We did work really hard this year...we worked hard through a really hard year and another hard year is coming.  I know there are other military homeschooling families who can relate to these years and this is one of those times I wish we could all go grab some coffee together.  

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Raising Hard Working Kids In An Entiled World

"Do good work" Wall Badge

When I saw this sign yesterday from Magnolia Market, I thought, "How did Joanna Gaines know I needed this?!  I wonder how much I would have to pay to have her be my mothering mentor?"

We've had a crazy year.  We did some school and then Ben came home from deployment.  We did some school and then we had the holidays.  We did some school and then we moved across the country.  We did some school and then we did some exploring of our new state and had 3 rounds of visitors.  We've continued to do school through the summer as we've tried to meet new friends and figure out living in the desert.  We're getting ready to finish our school year and take a little break before Ben deploys again.

Through this whole crazy year, I've felt really good about homeschooling.  I love teaching our kids.  I love our little schoolroom and I really enjoy our days together.  But something happened this week...this was the worst week of school we have ever had.  It probably had something to do with the fact that Ben told the kids this week that he's deploying some time next month.  Or maybe it had something to do with the failed math assessment.  Or maybe we all just burnt out from the accumulation of this year.  I don't know, I just know it was very bad.

All of the sudden, the kids could not finish a single assignment well.  There were tears and pouting and grumbling and complaining about each and every subject.  I realized how quick I am to offer rewards for finishing something.  Alison especially will do anything for a reward.  I potty trained her in a matter of days just for stickers, she'll participate in sports for ice cream and persevered through Ancient history for a fish.

It's easy and it works, but what is it really teaching her?  To only get something done if you get something out of it?

We spent a lot of time this week talking about this verse:

Ironically, it took her three attempts to write it without misspelling a word and she was copying it out of the Bible!  Sigh.

I felt like the kids were just not there.  They weren't engaged and waiting for the moment I said, "Okay, school is done." so they could have their screen time.  I lost count how many times that I told them that they are not entitled to electronics and I could easily take away their screen time.

I know you're waiting for my 3 easy steps to raise hard working kids in an entitled world.  You're probably looking for the pretty picture to pin or the fun graphics to map out the best parenting skills.  I don't have it.  The humbling truth is, it's a matter of the heart and there isn't a quick fix for that.  Our house is already electronic limited and I could take away the little that they have for all of eternity and it still wouldn't give them a good work ethic.  I can talk to them all day long about the importance of doing a job well, even when you feel like your "boss" (aka mom at this time in life) is mad at you and it can all fall on hard hearts.  I could give them countless chores and make them slave away all day long, but it still doesn't mean they'll want to the job before them well.

 My easy steps to make them work hard won't change their heart.  Even without electronics, our kids are still being ingrained that "You should get what your heart desires".  They feel entitled to eat the fun Elsa fruit snacks and to win every game they play and to participate in every single extra curricular activity they want.

My only answer is to pray.
God is the Lord of their hearts, not me.

The best lesson we can teach our kids is to run to Jesus; admitting we are weak and full of sin and need his forgiveness and strength.  The second best is leading by example.  Let them hear your prayers over your family and let them see you working hard for the Lord.  Get in beside them as they scrub toilets and bring them into the kitchen with you to prepare dinner.

Work at parenting with all your heart because you are working for the Lord. Don't neglect praying over your kids and never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit.

Too bad there aren't any Navy bases in Waco Texas.  Doesn't living on a farm next to the Gaines' sound fabulous?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Friendly competition?

How do your kids handle competition between siblings?  Do they thrive under the pressure of beating a sibling or does it make them discouraged?

I'm about to find out how my kiddos handle it.

The same day I gave Alison her math assessment, I gave it to Eli as well, curious to see where he was.  I knew that a large portion of it were concepts he hasn't formally learned yet, but I also know the power of listening to siblings learn.

I was shocked at the results; he was two questions short of passing 2nd grade and basically got the same score Alison did.

Yikes.  I wanted to party and jump up and down and make a HUGE deal of how awesome this was, but then again, I didn't want to make Alison feel like an even bigger failure.

All of the things we've been doing for Alison's math boot camp, Eli wants to participate in and CAN participate in, but I'm in this weird limbo of not wanting to hold him back, yet wanting Alison to jump ahead to gain confidence.

I even tried downloading a 1st grade math app just for him, but he claims it's too easy.

The difference between teaching boys and girls never ceases to amaze me.  When Alison was a toddler, I could say, "This is an 'A'.  What letter is this?" and she would say, "A".  Same thing to the boys, "This is an 'A'.  What letter is this?" and they would say, "Banana" or "7" or "Blue".  And I would eventually stop trying to push this style of learning and a few months later, they would just know that it's an A and move on.  Math is the opposite.  Configuring numbers just makes sense to them, while it sends Alison to tears.

This is how excited Eli was to start preschool years ago:

It still cracks me up.  Thankfully now he knows how fun learning can be :)

Any tips on sibling competition???

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Cracks in the foundation

This post goes on my "I wish someone would have told me" list. 
Let's see, so far I have:
  • How to take care of yourself after having a baby.
  • How hard the few weeks leading up to deployment and after coming home from deployment are.
  • and now this:

The public school that Alison went to for 1st and half of 2nd grade was extremely reading focused; all of their programs and rewards were geared toward reading.  Alison was "off the charts" in reading and sat quietly in her chair and followed the rules, so I always got "she's an excellent student" from her teachers.  Never once did they tell me that she struggled in math.

It wasn't until I began homeschool that I figured out the weakness in her education.  Just mentioning fractions freaked her out.  Multiplication?  Forget it.  She was a nervous nelly before she could even read the problem.  In public school, she had figured out how to work the system; she could ace tests even without knowing the information.

I decided to re-do second grade math at the beginning of 3rd grade to build her confidence and make sure her skills were solid before moving on.  Right after she finished, we began the moving-across-the-coutnry process and used for the remainder of the year along with the occasional worksheet.  I would sit with her once a week and watch what she was working online and I felt like she was being pushed and learning and doing well.  We are ending 3rd grade this week, so I gave her an assessment test to see what curriculum to order for 4th grade.

1st, should be easy peasy, question:
Me: "What is 53 minus 10?"
Alison: starts counting on her fingers..."41"
Me: "Wait. What is happening?  Why are you counting on your fingers? And how did you get 41?"

I finished the assessment and was almost speechless.  Truthfully, I was heartbroken.  You can tell a momma over and over not to take her kids' failure personally, but it's still hard to do, especially when you're the teacher too.

Me: "Alison, you didn't pass the assessment."
Alison"Ok, no big deal.  I'll just try harder next time."
Me"It actually is a big deal.  There isn't a next time."

Yet another thing public school ingrained in her; failure is not a big deal, you have infinite amount of times to try just a little bit more and maybe eventually you'll pass.
But if you don't ever feel the sting of failure, you won't ever try harder.

We spent most of that afternoon discussing issues that are a whole other post and that night we had a meeting with the principal, aka daddy.  It was decided that we would begin math boot camp and continue working on math, even over our break, until she was caught up.

Just a day into our boot camp, it became clear where the major crack in her foundation was.  She didn't have the basic math facts memorized.  She never made the transition from counting on her fingers to find the answers to relying on her memory for the answer and somehow she hid it really well.  I reached out to a friend who helps lots of kids catch up in math and she told me that this is a very common issue with kids.  Some kids just have a hard time memorizing in general and some kids just don't want to leave the comfort zone of counting on their fingers.

What I wish I would have known:

** Use math flash cards starting in 1st grade and keep using them!  Review them frequently.  Give a stack of them to your kids to review on their own before bed.
** Play cheesy math music and watch fun math videos on Youtube and play math games.  They may be slightly annoying, but they really get in kids brains and help concepts sink deeper.
** Don't assume your kids know information!  The saying about assuming is true. 
** Don't rely on computer programs for education and only use it as a supplement.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

On my heart

This blog has been a pouring space for many things and I LOVE that.  I love to have a place to call my own, to pour out anything and everything.  I think most bloggers would confess that reader feedback or the lack of, is what keeps them from blogging.  Fear of rejection or fear of failure; it's debilitating.

So much has been on my heart the last couple of weeks.  We've been in a new city for 4.5 months and I think the accumulation of the last "weird" year is catching up to me.  Add to that, looking forward into another "weird" year, I'm starting to feel like I'm going to lose it.  My heart is constantly full of things I feel like I need to drop to my knees and pray over, but I don't have time.  I'm thankful for a Savior who prays for me, even when I fail to come to Him.

I had a plan for making friends in this new city.  I love plans.  I'm really good at making plans.  But the stinky thing about making plans is, life never goes how I plan!  I assured my daughter that I am an expert friend maker and meeting new people would be a piece of cake.  Awesome for her, she has quickly made lots of great friends.  Me?  Not so much.  What happened?  I joined the Y, the place that became my second home in Virginia.  Not a single person has talked to me there.  Two of my kids are playing basketball and non of the other parents stay for, missed the boat that the coach was a babysitter.  We're at both libraries once a week, where I have met a few women who seem like potential friend candidates.  But here's the final friend kicker in my life.  The military.  Twice in my life, I've had a friend abandon ship once they found out Ben is an officer and their husband is enlisted.  The particular base Ben is working at has a very small percentage of officers (i.e. majority of people there are enlisted), therefore, I feel like it's pointless trying to make friends in the military here because I'm pretty sure they'll just back out once they know what Ben's job is.  Which really stinks for me because I am the opposite of a military wife.  His job is his job and I am not involved in his job more than asking how his day was when he gets home.

Remember the time Julie came all the way to AZ to visit me!

 I read an encouraging article about how friendships are worth the wait.  I love how it encourages you to hold fast to the friendships you have, even if they are far away and I am so crazy thankful for my friends all over the country.  But I feel like I need friends here...and soon.  Ben is deploying next month.  I need someone to run with and someone to go get margaritas with.  I need someone to make plans with to beat this insane summer heat and someone to swap watching kiddos when we have doctors appointments.  Ugh.  I look forward to the day when I can look back and say, "Hey!  Remember when I was complaining about not having a friend and LOOK who God brought into my life!"

Then there's that whole thing called motherhood.  My kids are getting older and each day I find myself thinking "make the most of this day!!!".  I feel time moving so fast and I want to do the best I possibly can, but oh, that's right, I'm human and fail  I don't know if it's being stuck inside because we live on the surface of the sun or if I'm being lazy with parenting or if it's just that my kids are sinners, but I feel like my 3 have a big case of snotty, entitlement, big brat syndrome.  I'm stressed and they're snots and we're all falling apart.  I'm reading a book called 'Strong Mothers, Strong Sons', which is an amazing book and I've highlighted pretty much the whole thing.  One thing she says that keeps ringing in my head is, "If the mother is happy, the kids will be happy."  I know it's true and it scares me.  My attitude is everything.  My tone of voice and the way I respond, is everything.  Happiness.  Can we choose happiness?  Or is it just forced and fake if we try to be happy but aren't really happy?  Especially in light of an upcoming deployment...I need to be strong for our kids.  I need to assure them that life is okay and they are safe and taken care of and show them the blessings that come from these trials.  But inside I'm thinking, "I'm not sure I can do this.  I'm just really not sure I can do this alone."

Entitled kid #1 taking a selfie at her birthday dinner

Basketball moms here pass out bags of candy for after-game snacks.  Not an understatement.  Giant bags full of candy.  And it makes me angry.

School, school, school.  We have 2 more weeks of this year and I couldn't tell you when we are starting back up because the date of Ben's deployment keeps changing and I don't know how to plan around that.  We'll be finishing school as everyone is going back to school and that feels really weird.  I feel like I need someone to come hold my hand through deciding what curriculum to use for our next year and it overwhelms me that no one else is in my boat of schooling.  97% of homeschoolers I know do Classical Conversations, 2% do K12 (which is a whole other page on my feelings on that) and 2% do boxed curriculum.  I don't know anyone else who does year round school and I don't know anyone who "modge podge's" curriculum.  AND I'm feeling very behind on my kids extra curriculars.  I really wanted to start music lessons a year ago!  Added to that, the kids don't really want music lessons which I don't get at all.  They have grown up in a house full of instruments and a variety of music, yet have no interest in it.

There have to be other women out there who have been in these shoes.  Or maybe there's someone coming in these shoes and needs a voice.  I don't know.  I do know that one thing that does help that happiness issue is writing.  It's an outlet and always makes me feel better.  Therefore, I will write.

To the mom out there who is feeling overwhelmed by the issues on her heart, I'm there with you.  You are not alone.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

We made it and life so far

We made it to Arizona!

The rest of the trip was not what we expected.  Halfway to Colorado, we got a call from the movers saying they needed to unload our stuff in 2 days or we were going to have to wait another week or maybe longer.  We had originally planned to have a fun day in Colorado and another fun stop in Sedona, Arizona, but cancelled all plans and booked it to our destination.  It made for some long days, but we didn't want to be living in hotels for another week or more.

New Mexico
 In New Mexico, we had a flat tire and Eli fell out of the hotel room bed and gashed his cheek on the end table.  The drive that day was rough and the only thing that got us through was knowing we would be "home" that night.

The scenery of the drive was absolutely beautiful and I am so thankful for the experience of seeing so many different states.  The night we pulled into town, we went out to a nice dinner to celebrate making it.  At dinner, Ben said, "If we ever have to move across the country again, let's not take 2 cars."  Yes, that was the hardest.  Some times it was hard to really soak up the scenery when I was so concentrated on following his car and then there was the fact that we couldn't really talk to eachother all day long.  There were a lot of times we'd lose cell service or it was just plain hard to talk and drive and tend to the kids.
first picture at our new house
 The movers were at the house bright and early the next morning.  We've learned pretty quickly that things here in Arizona move much slower than we're used to.  Same was true for our movers.  They were not in a rush and by 4 pm, they hadn't opened a single box.  When Ben reminded them that we wanted them to unpack us (we had told the company that months ago), the boss said, "Oh no, you do that and we'll come back to get the boxes in a few days."  By that point, we were ready for them to be out of our house, so we didn't argue and decided to just be thankful that they would pick up the boxes.

The kids thought unpacking was like Christmas.
Christmas with giant boxes to build with.

It didn't feel like Christmas to me.  It was overwhelming to find things and then find a home for them and break down boxes.  I guess the same would have been true if they had unpacked everything and just left it all over the house.  Next time, I'll insist they unpack the kitchen...that was the worst and we could at least find a bowl to eat cereal and drink coffee while we worked.

The good news of the move: they didn't lose a single thing and only 1 thing broke, and it was a cheap, meaningless thing.  

The other good news: Ben had off 10 days after we got here to help us settle in.  I don't think I would have made it without his help!  We worked hard on the house and have 98% of our projects done.  This move was a changing spot for Ben and I.  We have affectionately called it "the great purge" and have committed to living simpler, cleaner lives.  Which you will find ironic by the end of this post.  BUT we spent a lot of time purging stuff...any item we took out of a box that made us think "Where am I going to put this?" or "Why did I move this???", it went directly to the trash or donate pile.  By the time Ben went to work, there wasn't a single box in the house.  There are cabinets and dressers and shelves that are completely empty in the house and guess what?  we can actually park both cars in the garage!

Our sanity saver was the evening.  We'd go outside and just step away from projects and have some fun.

exploring the Colorado river

The very last box opened was our china.  In our last move, we left a ton of stuff in boxes in the garage and our china was one I just never bothered finding space for in the house.  No more china in my garage and it has a nice home in our kitchen.  The kids had a tea party that day with the newly resurfaced "baby china" and I regretted keeping it in a box for so long.
P.s. the boys cannot keep clothes on here!

Now for the ironic part.  When we talked about moving to Arizona as a family, we would talk about a pool, bunk beds and a dog.  Ben and I decided to not get a pool because of liability and the age of our kids; we felt it would be more stressful trying to keep children who are not confident swimmers out of the pool and keep it maintained, than it would be enjoyable.  We did get the boys bunk beds about a week after getting here and that left a puppy.
We have been keeping our eyes out for the right dog for months.  We'd just casually look in the evenings, knowing that the perfect dog never comes at the perfect time, so we were just open to the opportunity when it came along.  About a week ago, Ben found the perfect pup for our family online.  When we inquired about her, the foster mom told us that there were a lot of people interested in her, but she also felt we were a great fit for her, so she "saved" her for us until we could get to Phoenix to meet her.  The kids and I drove up a few days later...poor Ben actually had to go to work.

It was love at first sight.

We named her Maya and she has been a really fun addition to our family.  I am still committed to a simpler, cleaner life, it just entails trying to keep dog stink out of my house now.

Oh, and that whole school thing we do?  We did start back up this week, even amidst getting a puppy.  And I am SOOO thankful I put all the work in I did before we moved.  It made a huge difference this week and was so nice to have everything done.  They continued to work on their notebooks and did computer work and we will ease back into "normal" school...minus a trip next week.  Stay tuned; we're going to the Grand Canyon!!!

Monday, March 7, 2016

The move is here

I had grand plans to take all these Pinteresty pictures of our packing and trip.  That was a fail and so was my packing.  My closet became our packing place, that we taped off from the packers...this is what it looked like:

I pretty much had a bag for everything: toiletries and swimsuits and food and school books and then a suitcase for each state we were staying in.  I thought it would be great to just have one bag for all 5 of us to take into the hotel each night...that idea definitely did not work.  All was fine and good, until the packers actually got there and we started throwing in random things to the closet that we might need in the next couple of days.  That equaled a ton of loose things that equaled it almost impossible to pack the car.  We ended up buying 2 rubbermaid containers for all the random things which helped a ton, but the packing was still a mess.  Everyday someone didn't have something they needed and somehow I misplaced all of my underwear!

I was very impressed with the packers.  They were early and had our entire house packed in 3.5 hours...the same amount of time it took for the carpets to be cleaned.  We had our kitchen island full of "essentials" for the packers: apples, granola bars, water, donuts, coffee with cups and creamer, paper towels and plastic utensils.  They didn't even glance at our nice gesture and zoomed into the house and started packing right away.

Random things they packed that shouldn't have been packed:
  • Everything on that island!
  • Including maple syrup and clorox wipes and trash bags and snacks for the kids.
  • A hand towel ring...that was attached to the wall!
  • Half of a shower head

Random things they didn't pack:
  • a bathroom rug
  • 2 teacups, 1 wine glass and half a margarita shaker
  • a bunch of twist ties 
  • a kitchen towel
Nothing major though and nothing we couldn't solve.  Overall, I was happy with the movers.  Oh, I did learn: don't try to make small talk over lunch with the packers.  I made the mistake of asking one of the guys what was the most random things he's found while moving someone.  DON'T ASK THAT QUESTION!  I can't even type his answer.

The kids have been absolutely amazing.  They have been excited to move and done great sleeping in different hotels and riding in the car  I'm so impressed with them.

So, currently we are nomads, staying with my parents halfway through our trip.  It's nice to have some time to do laundry and regroup.  I'm completely repacking our suitcases.  Each person is going to have a bag and we can just carry in a million suitcases each night.  At least this way, everyone will have clean underwear when they need it.

This break has been so refreshing for me and I'm starting to feel a little anxious about the next leg of our trip.  This part seems more daunting; driving to a place I've never been and making a home.  Crashing at my parents house seems way easier...

As for school, my brain can't even remember what day it is at the moment.  We've only completed a couple pages in our geography books, but we did spend a morning at the Science Center in St. Louis.

My intentions are to have them work on their geography books on our next couple of long days of driving...we'll see if that actually happens.