Some 2019 Positives

Last year wasn’t the easiest year for my family. We suffered some loss and some scares and some really hard things. The year got off to a bad start with a terrible scare and I think the anger and resentment from that started festering deep in my gut. I just shoved it down and refused to deal with it. And, as the year progressed, I found myself sinking down into a dark place. Oddly enough, as I talk with friends about 2019, many of them found themselves in a dark place by the end of the year as well.

As I was talking to one friend in particular last night, I realized that all of my negatives were clouding my view of the year though we experienced some great things. I don’t want to remember only the bad things so today I want to give space to some positives of 2019.

It was an amazing year of baseball for Kaleb! He started on a brand new journey of public school baseball in January. He was able to join the high school baseball team he has dreamed of playing for since he was little. He had to sit out the first season due to homeschool laws but he practiced with the team and got to know them and the coaches. He was able to play in a couple junior varsity games as well.

He also played his last year of Little League baseball. It was probably the best year he has ever played. He was asked to be on the Little League All Star team for his age group, and they placed 2nd in the tournament. His dream of owning a Little League ring was finally realized!

Since it was his last year of eligibility, we also allowed him to play on a travel ball team. We were CRAZY busy between February and June! Three baseball teams plus our younger ones playing soccer! We always said we would never allow it but it was his last year to play travel ball as well as his last year to play on the same team as his best friend. And it was worth all the driving and money and exhaustion. They played in the state tournament and, even though they came up short, it was such a fun season. So good to see all those boys play together one last time.

Joshua and Drake played spring soccer. I coached Joshua’s team for the second time and enjoyed it. I don’t know much about soccer but we learned together and celebrated an undefeated season. Drake enjoyed his season as well. I didn’t get to see any many of his games since I was coaching.

The summer brought many days at the water park. We had season passes so we aimed to spend as much time as possible there. We had a lot of fun with friends and consumed many snow cones.

Sometime in the middle of all the baseball and swimming, I decided to take over our homeschool group’s co-op again. I didn’t think I would ever be in charge of co-op again when I resigned many years ago but there was a need and a new leadership. I felt such a deep conviction to step up. Shortly after becoming co-op head chair, I also agreed to be on the group’s board which is another position I never thought I would have again. But I am SO grateful that I did. The new board and co-op committee had many struggles over the next several months but we would help each other through some tough personal times as the year went on. We rallied around each other on numerous occasions. I’m so thankful for their encouragement and support.

Two good friends, the hubs, and I went to see the Goo Goo Dolls and Train in concert. Soooooo good. So. So. Good.

In July, we went on a family vacation to Minnesota. We have family in both Kansas City and Minneapolis. We stopped and spent a few days with our KC family before going north. We went to Mall of America, spent a more than a few hours at Nickelodeon Universe. We visited the small town a little further north were my husband grew up. And, to Kaleb’s delight, we attended a Twins game. (It was a fun experience for us all.) In between all that, we spent many hours hanging out with family and catching up. Other highlights for the boys included Caribou Coffee, Pizza Ranch, and Yoyo Donuts. Ha! Growing boys love food!

I have to admit…I am thankful for that time of rest because things quickly went downhill after our vacation. I know good things had to have happened in August but we were hit hard with a few personal and family issues that just came one right after the other. I was in a fog of anger, confusion, fear, and despair. Those feelings carried over into the rest of the year.

But there were some good moments:

  1. Adopting Oreo for my sweet oldest grand wins the most tender moment of 2019. I will cherish that day for the rest of my life.
  2. Grand birthdays (all but one in the fall) because their happiness always sparks my happiness.
  3. A wildly successful co-op after so many struggles to pull it together.
  4. A full house at Thanksgiving with family, friends, and even people I didn’t know.
  5. The boys’ annual Christmas party that finally sparked some Christmas spirit in my heart.
  6. A much needed quick trip to KC with an old and dear friend and her daughter who is a wonderful friend to my boys.
  7. The KC family coming down for Christmas because people who get you and love you unconditionally are the best when you’re struggling.
  8. And as always watching the boys and grands open their presents from us. If anything can bring joy to my heart, it’s seeing it on their faces.
  9. And because I wanted to end the year surrounded by that joy, our NYE party with the boys and grands.
  10. And someone who doesn’t even know what she did for me this fall. The children’s pastor of our church faithfully scheduled me to serve and teach a bunch of 4-6 year olds every two weeks. Even when I just wanted to sit in darkness, I found light and joy and love in that room of kiddos. It’s always fun to teach them but it was especially needed it in this season. We talked about Jesus, had Thanksgiving and Christmas parties, learned Bible verses that I think I needed more than they did. It was a precious time that I didn’t know I needed.
  11. Lastly, the hubs who is always my encouraging rock. He’s always my biggest cheerleader and supporter. We had a year filled with many perfect moments.

My hope is that 2020 is a year of rest and healing. I didn’t make any resolutions. I don’t even have a One Little Word really. I just want to enjoy family and friends, have new adventures, and get back to the light. I’ve had enough of the darkness. I want to find joy and contentment and space to just breath out the pain of 2019.

2020 Winter Book Stack

Happy New Year!! Hope you all had a fantastic holiday season. We are finally getting back to our normal routine here. I love the holidays but routine is always welcome after the craziness between Thanksgiving and New Years.

I have to be honest….I had no plans of ever blogging again. We just got busy last year that I decided that blogging just wasn’t going to fit into this season of our lives. I put it out of my mind and moved on. Then, oddly enough, I was on the bank app on my phone last month and noticed that I had a renewal fee from WordPress. Ha! Guess I forgot to stop it. And since I was charged the renewal fee, I feel like maybe I’ll give it a try again this year to at least get my money’s worth, right? We’ll see how it goes. Not holding my breath or anything but I do enjoy blogging when I have the time.

Anyway, as I was clearing off my desk in the dining room last week, I came across a stack of books that I slowly collected last year but never either finished or even started. My goal for this winter is to read each one before I purchase anymore books.

I’ll admit…last year got a little crazy and things did not go like I had planned. We suffered loss in several areas on top of over-committing ourselves in other areas. I plan on recapping 2019 just to get it out of my head so details on all that happened last year to follow later. Suffice to say, I found myself stuck in a low place and wallowed there for a while. It only got worse as the year went by so I didn’t get any meaningful reading done. I stuck to mostly fantasy fiction so I could lose myself in a make-believe world that always came with a happy ending.

I want to start this year off on a better foot. Take better care of my mental and emotional health. Part of that is reading books that inspire and motivate me. And sitting in a neat little pile on my desk were a few books that I know will help reset my mind.

My Winter book stack list and the plan:

  1. Daring Greatly -I started this but only got about a chapter or two in before setting it down last year. This one will probably be last on my winter reading list for no other reason than I am just slightly more excited about the other books on my list.
  2. Fervent -I’ve read this twice before but it’s a book that always encourages and inspires me. I need some of that in my life right now. I plan to read a little every morning and stretch it out over the rest of winter.
  3. The Brave Learner -started this one last year too but never finished. I want to jump back into this one after I read Of Mess and Moxie. I feel I need the encouragement (and permission to relax) in my homeschool that Julie Bogart always brings to the table. I also need to keep reading The Writer’s Jungle too.
  4. Homeschool Bravely -opened it for two seconds and then set it down. I knew when I bought it that I would want to read it but just never could get myself to start. I’m keeping this one for late February when homeschool burnout usually begins.
  5. Everybody Always -Read a few chapters before I put it down. Bob Goff is always so encouraging but I wasn’t feeling it last year. I really just wanted to sit in my misery. I’ll continue this one after I’ve read The Brave Learner.
  6. Of Mess and Moxie -I don’t even remember buying this but again Jen Hatmaker is another encourager. I know I’ll enjoy this book if I would just start it. I’m starting with this one. I feel like this one will be light-hearted and full of laughs. I definitely need some of that!

Since I’m on such a fiction kick and struggling to add any non-fiction, I’m challenging myself to alternate the above books with the fiction books I’m reading on Kindle Unlimited. I read on my phone a lot at night after the hubs has gone to sleep so obviously this will be a challenge. Too easy just to pick up my phone and open the Kindle App.

My hope is by reading these books I will feel refreshed and inspired enough to have a productive start to the new year. Winter is so hard on my mental health already. I’m such a summer girl! And with all the struggles of last year, I need the extra hand up. Looking forward to a happier, healthier 2020!

Week 18: Oh How I love a Good Routine

Our sweet Kaya, lying so quietly and patiently under my chair.

I love when we get into a good rhythm. Our time flows smoothly. We have time for all the things. Everyone feels good about our day. A good routine just makes life easier, right? I don’t mean a schedule. I am not a strict scheduling kind of girl. I like margin. White space. Time to just be. I feel like when I try to schedule our day, I always over schedule, never include enough time, and most always set myself up for failure. I end up rushing our read aloud time and boys’ creative activities. I feel like I must plan every single minute. And we never have free time to just be. I feel like a drill sergeant. Schedules aren’t bad! Some people thrive on a schedule. I prefer a routine. If we don’t get started right at 8am, that’s ok. We can still do the same things…just a little later in the morning. If we need to shift to the afternoon, we still have our routine…just later in the day. If everyone gets up early….you see what I mean. We simply follow our daily routine regardless when we begin. And when we get into our groove….it’s magical.

We had such a great week. A couple bumps in the road but mostly just a lovely week of learning. We began a moon study in anticipation of the coming lunar eclipse. The boys and I each did watercolor painting of a full moon, we read various books, and watched a wonderful documentary about the Apollo 11 landing. If you’re interested in reading more, I shared about our moon week in a separate post.

We had a few frustrations on Tuesday so instead of giving up the day (still remembering the wise words of Bob Schultz), we headed to a local lake for a quick nature walk. I wanted to see if the waterfall at the lake had any water flowing. It did not disappoint. In all we only walked about a mile, but it was pretty cold and muddy. We took time to pick individual trees for the new year. While we are relatively new to tree study, I like that some of the trees at the lake are labeled. We will continue our tree study into this week after we finish up our moon study.

I have to say…the rest of the week was pretty uneventful. My husband had to borrow my truck on Wednesday so it was just a full day of school and relaxing for us. The same for Thursday. That routine, you guys! On Friday, I took my teenager for his first sports physical. That was quite the experience for him!

Thanks to routine and a slow calendar, we had an awesome (but maybe a little boring?) week. Truth be told….I hope we have many, many more!

Nature Study: The Moon

We have not kept up well with our nature studies this school year so one of my New Year’s Eve goals is to get back in the nature study habit. The boys love it. I love it. We need it! Getting back to nature study in January means not waiting for good (read: warm) weather. Ha! This was our first full week of nature study since the new year.

A FAVORITE nature study resource is Lynn Sheldon’s Exploring Nature with Children. It is simple and so easy to implement. We have been loosely following along for two years now. I also love using The Handbook of Nature as well. So much information in that book!

I also browsed our home library to find other books on the moon. I had so much fun with all these books and materials that it was tough putting them all away this week.

One of my favorite projects was using watercolor to create our own moons. The boys, surprisingly enough, loved it as well. We watched a quick YouTube tutorial and then I turned them loose on their own creations. I even created my own watercolor moon.

We read every day from the Handbook of Nature and several other books from our home library. We studied moon phases and learned about solar and lunar ecplises. The boys were shocked to learn that we always see the same side of the moon! We watched Journey to the Moon on Prime, a documentary about Apollo 11 and the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong. It was fabulous and I definitely recommend it!

Of course, I think the boys’ most favorite activity was creating moon phases with Oreos! As we waited for the eclipse, I read to them The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons and we used the illustrations to create our own moon phases.

Lastly, we watched the lunar eclipse. We armed ourselves with coats and hats and binoculars and our phone cameras. We did not stand out in the cold the whole time. It was SO cold! We went out in 15 minutes intervals, taking turns with the binoculars. We also looked at many amazing photos online the next morning.

This was such a fun nature study week! It really set us up well for the rest of our school year. I’m looking forward to learning about trees this week and probably next. We went on a little nature walk last week to find trees for each of the boys, and now they are ready to learn all about the trees they picked out. I hope we can keep up the nature study. They enjoy being outdoors much more than I do but I’m having a lot more fun with it than I thought. See you next time!

Week 17: A Lesson in Perseverence (for Mom)

A couple of years ago, I made a wonderful discovery. Someone on Instagram suggested a book by Bob Schultz. It was called Boyhood & Beyond. I’m not one to love gender-specific books but this one grabbed me. I always thought it was funny how I would read a chapter aloud to the boys….and realize the lesson was meant for me. Ha!

Fast forward to January 7th of this year. A lesson from another of his books, Created for Work. As soon as I read the first sentence, I knew this was for me. And it was timely. Sometime in 2018, developed this bad habit of giving up when things don’t go the way I planned. Or our school day gets interrupted by life. Or the boys aren’t listening well. Or I just feel cranky. What made it worse was that I knew exactly what the problem was (me) but I didn’t care. Last year wasn’t great. A lot of struggles…physical and emotional. And my attitude about a lot of things (all the things) stunk. Preparing for 2019, I seriously wanted to tackle this bad habit. I knew my attitude was one reason our homeschool suffered so much last year, and I didn’t want that for my boys.

So Bob Schultz reminded me that I didn’t want to live like that. When things get tough, keep going. Don’t crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head. Don’t give up. Don’t let little things turn into big things. No matter what…keep going.

And like I said, timely. Ha! Our Monday did not go as planned. As soon as our morning group work ended, the struggles started. Boys fussing at each other. Not listening to me. Not doing their schoolwork. And I just wanted to throw in the towel. I remembered what I had just read to the boys about perseverance, and how I admitted to them that this lesson was just as much for me as them. I didn’t want them to think I was a hypocrite.

After a frustrating morning and lunch time, we all had some frustration to burn off. It was such a beautiful day and sunshine always makes me feel better so we headed outside for some yard work. Cleaning neglected fence lines is some serious work, you guys! After a couple hours, we were worn out, relaxed, and ready to restart our day. We loaded up into the truck to mail my teenager’s testing packet back to Seton, made a stop at Sonic for Happy Hour….we needed some happy, and then we hit the ground running as soon as we got back home.

Big lesson for mom: (and I know I already knew this…you probably do too) Mom ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. My attitude sets the tone for our home, and can make or break our day. When I chose to keep going even when things stink, they are encouraged to keep going. When I bring my A game, they do too. They are learning how to act and react to situations by watching how I act and react. Gosh, I know this! But I guess I let myself forget it last year. Anyway so Monday wasn’t great but it was DONE. And I carried Bob Schultz’s words with me throughout the rest of our week.

After such a bad start to the week, I felt we needed a warmer, cozier start to our Tuesday. I prepped as much as I could the night before and then surprised the boys with a Poetry Tea Time breakfast. They had French toast and hot chocolate. We lit candles, and took turns reading winter poetry to each other. It was the BEST. They loved it, I loved it….and it set us up for a great day. Bonus: my dyslexic kiddo who never wants to read anything in front of anyone, including his brothers, read a poem to us!! It was such a sweet moment. His brothers listened quietly while he took his time to sound out difficult words and sometimes get Mom’s help. And then he re-read each line in a funny voice! So fun! We were all proud of him!

Wednesday was more of the same. Sweet, cozy school day. We did all the things, worked together, and enjoyed our day.

And again on Thursday, except I had a little surprise up my sleeve. The boys’ Nana gave them each a Chuck E Cheese gift card for Christmas. We had planned to go that Friday but I decided we earned an early treat. After completing most of our schoolwork that morning, we jumped in the truck and headed to town for some CEC fun.

Friday night brought another AH-mazing surprise. My dyslexic kiddo. He’s pretty stinking awesome! We didn’t get time during the day to complete his reading work so we tackled it after dinner. He sat and read all of his fluency words to me. I posted about it on Instagram. You’re welcome to pop over there and read about it.

We ended the week in a much better place than we started it. So thankful for a great week, authors who encourage (even those not in their intended audience), and so much grace. I hope your week is great….and if it isn’t, I hope you find the courage to persevere.

What We Are Reading-Jan 2019

Disclosure: The links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will make a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. I would never recommend a book that I haven’t read myself or approved for my boys.

You guys! We are reading SO many good books this month. Some are continued from last month, others are new for us, and a few are just the next in the series we’re currently reading. The boys are begging for me to keep reading during our read aloud times and Kaleb keep asking if he has to stop reading his current individual read. That’s good news, right?

So let’s start with our current read alouds. I read a LOT of our books during our group work in the morning. We also have an afternoon read aloud and a bedtime read aloud. Some go along with our history or science or Language Arts and others are just books that I want to read aloud to them. I love reading aloud and the boys enjoy it, too. Even Dad gets invested in our bedtime read alouds!

Our current group work read alouds:

Little Pilgrim’s Progress. We’ve really drawn this one out for too long. Ha! It has super short chapters and we read 1-4 chapters a week. We put it away sometimes and pick up back up other times. We are so close to being finished with it….and they are read to be done. We have absolutely enjoyed it but like I said, seems like we’ve been reading it forever (because we kinda have).

The Chronicles of Narnia! I am excited to be reading this aloud with the boys! I’ve never read them myself so it’s been fun for all of us. It took a bit to get the boys interested. We just finished The Magician’s Nephew and they are HOOKED! I’m so glad because I am too! We started it last fall, just reading a chapter or two a week. It quickly became a fave so we upped to a chapter every school day. We set it aside during December though to pick up some Christmas books (which we’re still reading!). They were super happy to get back to Narnia this month. We are now in the second book in the series: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Tales of Egypt. I have to admit…it’s a tough one to read. I keep having to Google pronounciations! Ha! And it definitely isn’t a favorite among any of us. It’s going along well with our ancient history, though. We are about 1/3 of the way through….and everyone will be happy when we finish it. I have a couple more Ancient Egypt books that I would love to read but I’m not sure we’ll get to them at this point. And that’s fine too. I have MANY Ancient Rome and Greece books that look great!

The Cat of Bubastes: A Tale of Ancient Egypt. Another history read aloud but we are all listening to this one on Audible. My voice can’t handle all of the reading we do as a group in the morning. Ha! I appreciate a little break every now and then.

The Cricket in Times Square. We are reading this in conjunction with our Bravewriter language arts program. We haven’t made it a priority so it’s been slow going. That will change in 2019. We are stepping up our commitment to Bravewriter. I love the program and I know my boys will benefit from it so it needs to be a priority. We are only a few chapters into this book.

Our current afternoon read aloud is The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place book 1: The Mysterious Howling. I have had the first two books in this series for about a year now, but we just started reading it this week. We’re only a few chapters in but I think the boys will love it. They say they need to reserve opinions until they get a few more chapters in. Ha!

Our current bedtime read aloud is The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. It was our last Christmas read that we just haven’t finished yet. We will easily finish this month and, if they enjoy it, we’ll probably read another book about the Vanderbeekers. I think there are three total?

My boys’ current individual reads:

Kaleb started this school year with the Harry Potter books. They weren’t holding his attention so he switched to a different book after the new year. He is currently reading Hatchet. He LOVES it and asks if he can keep reading after our individual reading time is over. YAY! Of course, it’s right up his alley. He loves books on wilderness survival.

Gabriel will finish up Winter War from the Prince Warriors series by Priscilla Shirer. He has loved this series! He started it when it first came out last year but put it away to read The Outsiders, a book his uncle sent to him that he LOVED so much he’s now re-reading it in his own time. His new individual read is The Sword of Summer from the Magnus Chase series. I hope he loves this series! I want to read it myself!

Drake and Joshua listen to books on Audible. Drake is dyslexic and struggles to read for pleasure. He is doing so much better but still likes to listen to books being read to him. Joshua, of course, is just beginning to read so Audible just makes it easier for everyone. They have been listening to Fifty Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin. They are just about finished so I think they will go to Myths that Every Child Should Know.

Drake and I are reading a series he found at a local library sale called The Three Investigators. I don’t know how many are in the series but he found about 10 or so for only 25 cents each. It was the first time he has been interested in any kind of book so I definitely snatched up every one of the books in the series. We are currently reading The Secret of Terror Castle. We take turns reading so he doesn’t feel overwhelmed but still get the feeling of reading on his own. It’s a BIG confidence builder!

Finally, I am always reading some kind of fantasy fiction on Kindle but nothing super spectacular lately. One of my goals for the year is to read more non-fiction. I’m such a book hopper when it comes to non-fiction…reading a chapter or two in one book before jumping over to read a couple chapters in another. I am working through several but my main focus is on Girl, Wash Your Face this week. If I finish that one before the end of the month, I’ll finish Everybody Always by Bob Goff. I’ll share a couple others next month.

See? So. Many. Good. Books! It’s going to be a great reading month. I love it! My read aloud list is always growing and growing…my Amazon book wish lists are insane! Ha! I wish I could read through them faster but I definitely want to enjoy our current reads. I would love to know what you and your family have been reading lately!

Week 16: Back 2 School…after the holidays

That first week back is always a doozy, you know?! To kind of help us get back into the swing of things after a long Christmas break, I decided to jump right back in the day after New Years Day. It was also the day Dad went back to work and only three days left in the week so a nice little transition for us. I tried to keep it super cozy and low key, although Drake’s math stress is pretty evident in this picture. He was not enjoying it!

We got back to our usual read aloud, The Magician’s Nephew. We only have a couple chapters left and boys have absolutely LOVED this book! I’ve never read The Chronicles of Narnia before so I’m loving it as well. We aren’t quite finished with our Christmas read aloud but we’ll finish that one up in the evenings.

A new learning adventure for me is the Instant Pot that I received from a friend for Christmas. It’s a little intimidating! I’ve had it since about the middle of December but finally decided this would be the week I would use it….at least once! I did the water test and that wasn’t so bad but I really just wanted to be done with it and fix dinner a different way. The hubs talked me into going ahead with some chicken. Seemed like an easy one to do. We just put four chicken breasts in the pot and topped with a Ranch Fiesta seasoning packet. The suggested time was a little misleading since it only shows the actual cooking time. I wasn’t expecting to wait an additional 10 minutes for it to build pressure. Makes sense…I just wasn’t expecting it. We all enjoyed the chicken though even the boy who usually refuses to eat chicken. I tried hard boiling eggs, using the 5-5-5 method. That was definitely easy peasy. I’m not sure how I feel about the Instant Pot just yet but I will definitely use it again soon….if for nothing more than to boil more eggs. Ha!

We managed to spend Monday afternoon to Friday morning at home. The boys and I literally went nowhere! Actually I think a boy snuck out with Dad to run some errands one evening. But I stayed in pjs all week long! I spent the time we weren’t doing school work putting away Christmas decor and getting the house back in order. And I read a lot. Two books down in 2019 already! So great. I’ll admit….it was a little tough, getting ready on Friday to pick up groceries. Ha! After I declared all the Christmas decor put away for the year, I walked out of my house on Friday and on to the Christmas welcome mat. What! I knew I’d end up overlooking something. Thankfully, the hubs hasn’t put the storage tubs in the attic yet.

My teenager spent his Saturday afternoon with his oldest brother tackling a standardized test. It isn’t required of homeschoolers in our state unless you want to play public school sports. He was a little nervous about it but after I glanced through the material, I had to assure him that he will do just fine. He doesn’t have anything to worry about. I just hope we get the results back SOON since public school here starts back on Monday. It has been a little bit of a rushed experience but I believe he will enjoy himself as soon as we get through all of the hoop jumping.

Our first week back to school wasn’t super structured but it was definitely a good one! Productive. Cozy. Laid back. I want continue the cozy school theme. Hot cocoa, warm blankets, and a lot of learning. A lot of reading! Maybe I can find some fun documentaries on history or something for us to watch. I want to move forward in our schoolwork but I still want to keep that super relaxed feeling from our break going. I know a lot of homeschoolers AND public schoolers starting back this Monday. I wish you the best first week back from break possible! I hope you get to carry that cozy, relaxed break feeling into your school week.

2019 New Year Homeschool Goals

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a fantastic holiday season! We had so much fun during our holiday break. We baked so many cookies, attended some awesome Christmas parties, and had fun with Dad who took off the week of Christmas. So many great Christmas memories!

I have to admit, though…I’m kind of happy to see 2018 go far, far away. Between three broken bones, an emergency surgery, a sprain, a brown recluse bite, (and that was just between two of us!) in addition to, it was a rough one.

There were some super great highlights though: a short but sweet girls only trip to the beach, a couple months of watching the cutest grand toddlers and grandbaby, a few good field trips, plenty of baseball and soccer, fun concerts, many game nights with friends and family, and of course our awesome holiday season. The good completely outweighed the bad….when I take the time to actually think about it.

One area in 2018 where I feel I failed more often than not was our homeschool. We never got off to a good start this school year. Too many commitments. Too many outside activities. Too many HUGE expectations on my part. And not near enough planning. We had fun and we’ve learned a lot, but we could have (should have) done so much more. We already started back this week after a long holiday break. However, I’m still working on a plan for finishing out this school year. So here is my short but hopefully effective goals list for 2019:

  1. No more outside commitments. We already have commitments with church, one of our homeschool co-ops as well as Little League sports, and of course family commitments which I wouldn’t change for the world. And we have one BIG new commitment beginning this semester: Kaleb will be joining a local high school’s baseball team. He will be required to attend 7th period every school day as well as the after school practice and games. He’s actually attending our neighboring school district as ours doesn’t have a baseball team so I will be responsible for driving him to and from practice each day. Thankfully, a neighbor’s son who is also homeschooling attends the same hour as Kaleb so we will be able to car pool a little. So the goal is to not add any additional commitments. Along with that, I am only going to teach one class during co-op. Well…the same class x 3. I will be teaching all three hours BUT it will basically be the same subject.
  2. Monthly, weekly, daily routines. We did SO well with this…until about Thanksgiving. Then the holiday madness kicked in and we let it all fall away. We completed more of our schoolwork AND household chores once we got on a good routine though. It just made life so much easier to know exactly what was coming up next. Even on days when we started late, we still knew exactly what we needed to do and got it done. So. Much. Productivity. I want to get back to this and even dig in a little deeper. It just works that well for us.
  3. Weekly prep. This is a must. And I have failed miserably at it this school year. I usually do a big once a year planning weekend during the summer where I get every subject planned out, all the printables printed, all the supplies bought and organized, all the things done so that I could just grab the file of our current week…and get to work. I didn’t do any of that. I wasn’t prepared properly when we started school….and I’ve been playing catch up ever since. The only thing left for me to do this late in the game is to use the weekend to fully prep for the upcoming week. Maybe I can do some catch up in the next month or so while we have some downtime from most of our outside activities, but really I just need to commit to that weekly prep. Our homeschool would run so much smoother.
  4. Blog and YouTube. I’ll be honest: we get more done when I’m held accountable. And blogging about our weeks does that for me. Knowing that I will be publicly recording our homeschool is so motivating. And let’s be honest….my attempts at blogging the last few years have been pitiful. I love looking back on those years when I regularly blogged about our homeschool. I wish I had a better record of the last few. I can do better. And I will. I also want to get back to posting YouTube videos. I enjoy watching and reading about other homeschools and the community is such a blessing to a mama who spends a lot of her time at home. I decided last month that we would give YouTube a retry so I deleted all the videos I had previously posted in preparation….I just couldn’t look at them. Ha! The boys and I will start over some time this month. Slowly but surely! I’m committing for sure to weekly blog posts and possible bi-weekly YouTube videos. We’ll see how it goes. I have a teenager who would LOVE to edit my videos for me so that is a HUGE bonus.
  5. Be more intentional. This really is the sum of the four previous goals but I feel it needs its own space. I have to see it to believe it. Out of sight, out of mind. Or something like that. More intentional with my time, my boys’ time, our family time, our outside commitments. All of it really. Make it count. You know when you fix an amazing dinner and have leftovers? You put them in the fridge with the intention of having all that yummy for lunch the next day. Then you forget. And it sits there in the fridge. You might see it later and think you’ll have it the next day. No worries! Right? But then you forget again. And eventually you have to throw the whole thing….container and all…into the trash because it’s become a science experiment gone wrong. That’s kind of how I feel the first half of our school year turned out. I kept forgetting/putting off the good stuff. The things that make our homeschool fun. And eventually we got sucked into a super busy (but so fun) holiday season. None of the good stuff I wanted to do actually got done. I think the biggest reason for that was my lack of intention. I just didn’t make time for those things to happen. I spent a lot of the last few months thinking we would eventually get to it but we never did. So I am going to work on being more intentional. Use my time wisely by making sure I don’t over-commit our family, reestablishing those routines that work so well for us, planning ahead with good solid prep time on the weekends, and holding myself accountable through this blog and social media.

I fully believe that, if I stick to these goals, we will accomplish so much more in our homeschool and finish out the year with a BANG! And part of making that happen is accountability so thank you, WWW, for holding me accountable! Ha! I look forward to the next few months and learning alongside my boys. It’s a new year. A new start. And I’m more excited about this last part of our school year than I was when we started it. Better late than never, I guess. Hope you all are off to a great start on your new year. If you’ve made some new homeschool goals for 2019, I would love to read about them. Happy 2019!!

2018-19 Week 2: Composer/Artist Study

So I was crazy inspired by this set of videos by Sonya Shafer.  She pretty much broke down the Charlotte Mason education into five succinct points.

A little tangent:

Genius! I wish someone had done this for me back when I started reading about Miss Mason. I was incredibly lost when I visited Ambleside Online. I love and appreciate AO…but I froze when I saw ALL THE THINGS and wondered how in the world I could possible do it all with my boys.  Thankfully, I found other resources that made better sense to me. Oh, to have these videos though. If you’re curious about CM or wondering how to get started…where to start, you should seriously consider watching these five short videos. Don’t even watch them on the same day. Give yourself some time to digest each one individually.  And suddenly… won’t seem so intimidating.

Ok, back to my inspiration. Our composer and artist studies were found lacking this past year. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t organized. It wasn’t encouraging or inspiring or really anything but a burden for me. I kind of gave up on both. Then I watched the video on adding five things to your weekly schedule. BOOM! It made perfect sense to me. Super easy. Don’t overthink it. And here we are.

This trimester’s composer is going to be Scott Joplin. I chose him for a few reasons. For one, he fits the time frame we are currently in (American history) while waiting for our ancient history materials to arrive. I think the boys will enjoy his music. They weren’t super impressed with last year’s selections. And I was inspired by my daugher-in-law’s American Literature high class. She’s making a great effort to share more than just the typical “dead white guys” with her class. I love it. I also want the boys to have a broader experience with American history and music. Plus when we do start the ancients, there won’t be a list of composers for us so we’ll just stick with modern composers for most of the year.

Same with our artist study. We are going to start the year with Jackson Pollock because who can pass up splatter paint art?! Seriously. I think this will be a much better introduction into art than some of my previous choices. We will have fun with it for sure.

We also added back a poetry study this year. We are going to stick with one of last year’s poets since we didn’t get far….Edgar Allen Poe. We watched a fun little video of The Raven as well as a short bio on video before listening to another video of Christopher Lee read the whole poem aloud. One of my boys immediately came up with a few lines of his own for a Minecraft parody of the poem. I can’t wait to share his completed work!

We used YouTube videos for much of our learning in these three areas. I’ll link a few of the videos we loved below.

Jackson Pollock:

Scott Joplin:

Edgar Allen Poe:

On to our weekly report….

You know when we’re getting back into our school routine? When I don’t have many pictures to share because we were just on a roll! Ha! I didn’t take many but we did have a fun field trip at a local pizza place on Thursday. The kiddos were able to make their own pizza…and while those baked, we had a little pizza dough fun. Then, of course, the kids ate their creations.

Other than that, it was business as usual.  Our busy season is starting up again…a lot of baseball and soccer and co-op classes. Summer has officially ended for us!

2018-19 School Year: Our First Week

As usual, my first week report is before my curriculum post. Ha! Why change things up at this point right? It’s almost like my own annual tradition. Also….we’ll see how long the blogging about school lasts this year.  I think I barely even started last year before I stopped. I’ll get back into the habit one of these years, right?!

So week one:

First of all, something new for our school year….I’m watching my little grand toddlers every day for the months of August and September. And I’m also watching my little grand baby 1-3 days a week. Just call my house Mimi’s Grandcare. Ha! The boys and I love having them, and we actually managed to have a pretty decent week while adjusting to the changes. There are challenges but we’re a pretty patient lot and it helps that they are so stinkin’ cute!! We will definitely miss having them around when this time comes to an end.

Another challenge….I decided to outsource our printing needs this year.  Our summer was full of all the things so I was quickly running out of time to do my once a year planning/printing. I ordered all of our PDFs to be printed back in the middle of July. We should have received it by early August but here we are….working toward the end of August and nothing has been printed yet. Sigh. Trying to show patience. That’s a good chunk of our schoolwork. Patience. Patience. Patience. If I repeat it over and over, will it help? Or only further annoy me?!

The highlights of our week…


You know when the Bob Schultz book you’re reading to your kids….so they will become good upstanding adults…ends up convicting you instead of them? The book clearly says it’s for boys but there I was……totally convicted. So we spent the morning after our group work deep cleaning our bedrooms and bathrooms. Ha! Thanks, Bob. But keep in mind that your job is to teach my boys….not me. For real, man. Then math, reading, copywork, etc.  All the things that the boys did NOT miss over the summer. We’re sticking with American history until our ancient history shows up.  Digging a little deeper into WWI and WWII. Kaleb, the history buff, is in heaven. I feel like I’m crying every day. If you need a good resource for American history though, check out America: The Story of Us. So good! We watch on Prime.




So how do you get restless boys to settle down and work? Homeschool PE. YES! A little running, some jumping jacks, sit ups, push ups, and of course planks. Burn that extra energy! And I learned that if the baby of the family works harder and does better than his older brothers, those olders work harder themselves to show they are stronger/faster/better. Homeschool PE = some healthy, brotherly competition = extra burn. I like it. One of our new daily habits!



Finally the mom of this house got it together long enough to give the boys some fun NB2S gifts.  Of course she didn’t have it together enough beforehand to actually finish anything….so Dad saved the day! After a day of schoolwork, we all jumped into the truck and headed to a fun amateur hunting film fest.  First, Dad bought us dinner at a fave restaurant. Then we made our way to the event.  We watched several hunting videos (I’m not a fan usually but they were well done and fun to watch.) and caught some cool prizes. The boys each came home with either a hat or shirt and a dvd. We got home around midnight so I let the boys sleep in just a bit the next day.




The homeschool mom is tired, ya’ll. It’s been a long week. A great week. But long. And I didn’t have the luxury of sleeping in like some people in my house. This one cup of coffee girl had two cups. Ha! We managed most of our schoolwork but not much else beyond that. The grands LOVE playing outside so the boys spent a lot of time in the yard with them.


Happy FriYAY!!! We did it! Our first week of the school year is DONE!! We’ll get a little but of school work done and then…’s time to celebrate those birthday twins!!! Technically, their birthday is tomorrow but someone convinced me it was today, even though I knew I was right. Ha! So we did some fun things with them. It’s not everyday a grand is in your house on (or around) their birthday, right?! We definitely took advantage.

Hear that big ole happy sigh?! As much as I miss our summer break, it’s good to be back into our school routine. Settling my mind. Calming my heart. I love the spontaneity of summer, but oh that school routine….like a soothing balm to my soul. And the things we will learn this year. I can’t wait. So many books waiting to be read. So many adventures waiting to be taken. So many memories waiting to be made. My happy place.

Happy Not Back to School, my homeschool friends! Here’s to an AH-mazing year!!