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Sunday, November 29, 2015

The secret is out

Hubs and I have talked for years about writing a fitness blog together and when Hubs found he had a little more "down time" after deployment, he jumped into making it happen.  He's put in a lot of work and I think it looks fabulous.  Here's the link if you are curious:  A Sweaty Life...the name is a play off of our private family blog 'A Simple Life'.  Hubs decided not to be as discrete about our family on the blog and the reality is, if someone really wanted to know details about us, it wouldn't be that hard to find.  All this to say, the secret is out on our family names and going forward on this blog, I will just use our real names.

Hubs = Ben
Princess P = Alison
Bubby = Eli (or Eliot)
Charlie = Colin


This week, Alison did all of her work in one sitting so she could really enjoy family time and not worry about school.



I was secretly excited that she decided to do this.  It made our week so much more relaxing!  We got a Christmas tree and spent the day decorating the house before family came to visit.



Nana, Grandaddy and uncle Jordan came to visit and we ate lots of food, did some shopping, played games and relaxed.


My favorite part of the week was seeing endless smiles and tons of snuggles.


I'm a little nervous about jumping back into the school "grind" in the morning, but am thankful for a week of refreshment.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Schoolroom makeover!

 If I saw that title on Pinterest, it would have me hooked!  I'm afraid my little makeover would greatly disappoint any Pinterest viewers, but I think it's important to keep the perspective of making a schoolroom that works well for your family.  It doesn't have to be cutesy or filled with learning boxes or lined with bookshelves.  I know a lot of families that school happens around the dining room table and when the work is done, they load all the books into crates and move them to the corner.  That might be us in our next (smaller) house, but for now, I function best with a room dedicated to school.

Our rearrangement comes after Hubs did ONE day of impromptu school with the kids.  ONE day.  I'll be honest, when he brought up "how he would do school...", I was annoyed.  However, I respect that men are problem solvers and he was actually right.  How the room was arranged, I was spending a lot of time bouncing around the room helping different kids and giving them different things to do.  By the end of our school day, the couch would be filled with books that I had laid down while working with one of the kids.

Old room:


"New" room:

I sat in the middle, with all of our materials behind me so I could dish out work in a more efficient way and be right there to help/teach as they needed. When Princess P saw the new arrangement, she said, "I better get dressed like I'm going to real school!".  I wasn't sure how to take that comment, but I think she felt like it was more schoolroom esque now.  I'm also really sensitive to her comments about "real school"...I take school seriously, but I don't think she'll ever be able to get the public school comparison out of her head.

I thought the rearrangement worked really well for us.  We definitely got more done!  Because everything was literally right at my feet, I could easily hand them something extra to do while they waited.  For example, Princess P's math had us cut up an apple into fractions and then we used the apple slices to stamp leaves onto fall trees.



Literally at my feet had some consequences though.  I didn't have room for my own stuff since I gave up my desk for Charlie's workspace.  So I set my cup of water on the floor and while turning around to get a book, I put my entire foot in the cup of water.  The kids thought it was hysterical...I knew there needed to be some tweaking to this arrangement.  Hubs came home from work, walked in the new room and instantly new how to make it better.  How does he do that?!  He fixed the room for me and then went to start dinner so I could finish putting stuff away and I am so thankful this man is home!!!


Now I can still use my desk when Charlie isn't working and it looks a little more uniform.  The only problem I need to solve today is that Calendar you can see on the easel.  I had it taped up the wall, but it just keeps falling down.  So I stuck it on the easel until I could figure out a good calendar solution, and clearly that hasn't happened because it still says October.  Any suggestions???

Sunday, November 15, 2015

THIS is why I homeschool

Ok, not the only reason, but it's a BIG one.  I absolutely love being present to see the light bulb click on for big things.  Bubby can see the end of his reading lesson book ('Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons'...LOVE this book) and asked me one day, "So when I'm done with the book, am I all done reading?"  Princess P never actually finished the book and once it clicked that she could read, she jumped right into easy readers.  I told Bubby that once he decides he's a reader, he'll be reading and will move onto real books.  He had in his head that because he still has to sound out words, that he's not a reader...but this day it clicked and he decided that he could do it!  He was excited and kept stopping to say, "I can read!!!"  He wanted me to record the whole story, but it took for.ev.er...so just watch the first 30 seconds of this and you'll get the idea. 


P.S. It is impossible for him to sit still when reading and naturally he was playing dress up when I called him in for his lesson, hence the Transformer with swords and slayed animals all over the floor....welcome to teaching a 5 year old boy.


Another big reason is so we can do things like this:


Hands on learning and family time.

Am I saying that you can't have these things if your child is in public school? NO.  But I personally feel like I'm able to soak up these experiences better when I'm their teacher.


And recently, in between "field trips" and long reading lessons, dinner has looked a lot like this:

Basalmic Pork in one and braised white beans in another

Meat in one crock-pot and veggies or potatoes or beans in another.  Normal people would put them all in one, but I like having differing flavors on them.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Yikes!

We had some new friends over to play yesterday (we met them at soccer) and the mom was asking me about homeschooling.  Her daughter goes to the school we pulled Princess P out of and was naturally curious why.  Her last question was, "So, do you have a strong community of homeschool families?  Like, do you have a group of people you can bounce ideas off of?"

Oh how I wish I did.
Sure, I know lots of homeschool families and there are certainly wise people who have done this long before me that I talked to before jumping into the venture, but I don't necessarily have people in my daily/weekly life that are in the same homeschool boat as me.  I pointed out to my new friend that sometimes a homeschool community is hard because there is such a wide variety of homeschool philosophies and methods to carrying out that particular philosophy.  

Here's the thing about homeschool: you make up what it looks like and you decide what is taught.


Which brings me to my longing for that community to bounce things off of...

I did lots of research on curriculum before picking this year's studies, but it's so hard to really know what will work for your child and your family until you are actually doing the curriculum.  Princess P is in 3rd grade and beginning grammar this year.  Some of the books I looked at seemed way too easy and I knew she would be bored out of her mind (which is one of the reasons we pulled her out of public school), so I picked a well respected booked called "Shurley English".

Yikes.
This book is intense.


You are supposed to do one chapter a week and each chapter is broken up into 5 lessons (1 for each day of school).  The kicker is each lesson is crazy long...and hard.  There are jingles for each concept learned and I think it's their attempt to make it fun and easy to learn the concepts, but we listened to one song and Princess P was covering her ears and pleading, "Please make it stop!".  Ha!  They are pretty bad.  This is the one she was supposed to learn this week:

Needless to say, we have not done the jingle part.  I'm trying to convince the Hubs to write us new jingles that are a little less, um, old school...is that a nice way to say it?
The book says it's for homeschoolers, but I feel like it's more designed for a co-op.  Therefore, it's required me to modify it to fit us.  I've had to pare things down and simplify it to make it not so overwhelming for us, but still helps her learn a good grammar foundation.

So, 5 lessons into this shindig and she's classifying sentences.


There's also a list of vocabulary words that she has to define and write a descriptive sentence for and then she has to say if 2 words are synonyms or antonyms.  Then she has to decide if they are common or proper and if they are singular or plural.

Then she's supposed to write a paragraph and then edit the paragraph and then find synonyms of words in the sentence to enhance.
Then it wants her memorize a state, it's capital, it's postal abbreviation and what year it was admitted to the Union.
And then take a test and write in her journal and memorize scripture and I am not joking.


Oh, that's right...she's just 8.  And do you know what she wants to be doing?  She just wants to hang herself upside down on the couch and then hysterically laugh when she snaps a picture of me explaining to her that normal people do not hang themselves off of couches like this:


She immediately asked me to post this picture and I agreed that it did kinda feel good on my back.  Well, so much for ladylike manners...but at least she'll know how to find a prepositional phrase.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

You may be wondering...

"Is she still over.whelmed?"

I'm thankful to say that I am feeling much better.  We've eased into a routine and I feel like reintegration is finally settled.  I also am kinda thankful for my overwhelmed day because those freaked out plans have really helped the days run smoother.  Stress does have a purpose, it's just a matter of not letting it rule you or stick around for longer than it needs to be.

It also helps that I cleared my plate a little more.  I decided not to run the half marathon with Hubs in a few weeks and we stopped going to homeschool gym class.  I didn't want to let either of these go, but it's definitely helped me feel less stressed.



"What's the latest craziness going on?"

We had the privilege of having several people in our home this past week.  I am so proud of us for staying on schedule with school among the chaos and it gave us a chance to talk to the kids about showing hospitality.  Some friends from Chaplain school were here for a day, en route to Italy for their next assignment.  I was mentally taking notes of their adventures in case we ever have to move overseas, but I know it's not for the faint of heart.  We fed them and the kids all played and they were able to shower and wash some clothes before getting on a 12 hour flight.  Best of all, we got a day with some great friends.  One thing I love about the military is you make good friends quickly.  We also had my father-in-law here for the weekend.  The kids had a great time with their Poppy and after he left, I realized that our kids already have a wonderful gift of hospitality.  Showing love to a grandparent may sound easy, but our kids only see them once, maybe twice a year.  In a child's life, it's like meeting them all over again and they always welcome them with immense, unending love.


Tangent?  How did I get to my kids' gifts from the craziness of life?  Because this week, among everything going on; soccer games and dentist appointments and halloween and visitors and cooking, I felt this sense of...I don't know the word...longing for my kids to be a certain way (skilled at sports or music or art or something) and equally comforted and defeated that they will be who God created them to be no matter what I do.  I could feed them the healthiest food in the world, and they could still get cancer.  I could tell them about Jesus every single day and they may still not believe in Him.  I could pay a bazillion dollars for music lessons and they may still stink.  I could do nothing and they could be President.  Oh, the inner wars of a mother.


This is the result of a busy week of school and visitors and an impromtu visit to the doctor:



5 loads of laundry in the hallway...with a sword on top.  I'm considering it home protection; if anyone breaks in, they'll have to fold some laundry before they can get to us.

Now you're wondering about that impromtu visit to the doctor.  It's a good story.  Bubby has been casually complaining of his tummy hurting for awhile.  I always ask the mom questions "Have you pooped?  Are you going to throw up?  Are you just hungry?" and I tried increasing his fiber and gas medicine and cutting out dairy.  The complaining was getting worse, but still not stopping him from playing and doing school, so I took him up to the base.  After seeing a doctor and getting xrays of his tummy, it was concluded that he is majorly backed up!  HA!  This was a moment I was so thankful for military healthcare and I didn't just have to pay for an xray to tell me that my son needs to poop!  Needless to say, we are now on a "clean out Bubby's intestines" plan and have spent the last 2 days close to the potty.  Never did I think my life would include holding a book up for my kid so he could do his reading lesson while sitting on the potty.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Dear Commissary

Dear Commissary,

You may not rearrange the entire store...period.  It's just plain mean.  Your pretty basket of maps of the new layout was empty, but I'm pretty sure no one has time to look at/follow a map of a grocery store!  And just so you know, flour should always be in the baking aisle; that's basic grocery stocking 101.  And while we're at it, could you please teach customers to stand on the side of the aisle if they are looking for an item or *ahem* flipping through a giant file folder of coupons.  Thanks!

Sincerely,
A momma who doesn't have the patience to find flour!