Thursday, February 5, 2015

Homeschooling - Month 1!

Well today marks the one  month anniversary of when we began homeschooling our second oldest son.

I think things are still going pretty good. I'm happy with it and I think he is too. He does miss his old friends, however we're working on ways to get out and meet some people. :) He has soccer starting soon. He also has scouts (which we're going to try to be more active in!). I am also looking into some local home school groups.

Academically, I love the feeling of teaching him something. I love our intellectual conversations and hearing how his mind works. I don't think he got that at school before. Now he has time to really explore what he's learning and talk about it. I know that for me, personally, I learn best when I can discuss a subject with someone else and really think about it.

Some changes - I feel that we've done enough review on math now. We're going to start a new math curriculum. Since math is his strong suit and he enjoys it, I'm going to get him a more challenging math program. From what I've read and heard, the math program Life of Fred is a good one! By the time he goes through all of the books, he'll be ready to transfer to a junior level college math class. That's more then the average high school student can do!
Also, I want to accelerate through the material a little bit more since we only have 1.5 years before high school. AAAAAAACK! I want to make sure we don't spend a ton of time on middle school work, when we should be transitioning into junior high work by the end of this year. I don't want to place any limits on what he's learning, but I also don't want to leave anything out. :) I have SO  much I want to teach him!
So we're moving on to early American history now and leaving behind ancient history. He's already covered Egypt, Mesopotamia, etc several times over in school. He's teaching ME things I didn't know!

He says he wants to be a doctor when he grows up - a surgeon to be specific. I'm not going to limit him on anything. I love that he has goals and dreams! That  means, however, that we need to step up our work here! lol

Besides homeschooling - no other real updates here. Winter time is always our down season with not a lot going on. I'm also fully immersed in my own school currently too.  I only have one more year left!
I'll post more on updates soon! :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Exploring Egypt...

Today my 12 yr old son and I toured around Egypt. We saw the vendors on the street and the funny way the buildings and houses were packed in like sardines. We also got to visit a few pyramids while we were there. One of the pyramids even offered a tour down INSIDE of it! We got to see the old king's tomb that grave robbers had already gotten to, and unique passageways carved out thousands of years ago.  Then after exploring Egypt we visited a cave in France in which ancient paintings of animals and people were on the walls within the cave.  After we were done, we were still home in time to pick the other boys up from school and make dinner.

Isn't technology great! Google maps is such a fun tool for exploring the world. It felt like the next best thing to being in Egypt ourselves (minus the hot sun, sounds, and smells of it...). The tour of the French cave was a virtual tour provided by an educational website. I think it's amazing how technology is changing how we learn and what we can learn.

Today was day two of homeschooling Brayden. After a lot of careful research, reading, and thinking - we decided to go with the Easy Peasy curriculum. It is an all-in-one curriculum that provides adequate education in all of the areas we wanted to cover. It covers math, reading, writing, language arts, history, science, art, music, PE/Health, computer/technology, among a few other areas.   This curriculum is fully online with some worksheets/printables that are to be printed out from home.  It also comes with a wonderful support system/network.
The very best part? Its ALL FREE!
 The curriculum is given in bite sized amounts, which is perfect for a child with low attention span. This also allows more time to explore areas of interest or dive into subjects further (like we spent an hour in history just touring around Egypt and exploring pyramids).

I can't wait to see what the rest of this school year brings! Tomorrow we are making papyrus among other fun activities. :)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Saying Goodbye

As we ushered in a new year and said goodbye to 2014, I thought about the last year and everything it brought us.
It brought us happiness in the form of a new healthy baby girl.
It brought us a lot of fun and family memories.
It brought us big decisions about homeschooling.
It also brought sadness. The sadness came at the very end, however.

Life is so unpredictable. When you make careful plans, typically what you were planning for doesn't or won't happen. Yet, when you are least expecting it (and thus are typically unprepared), life has a way of sneaking up on a giant jack-in-the-box just waiting to spring out.

Change can be good, but with it also comes a period of adjustment and sadness from saying goodbye to the way things were. In our case, it also involves saying goodbye to a person who became like a grandfather to my children and like a father-figure to my husband.

For the past 14 years my husband has been a caregiver for one person. I often joked that he spent more time at work then at home! Work and home time was muddled, as he often thought about the person he cared for even when he was at home. It was more then a job, it was like caring for a family member.

We knew, of course, that the day would come in which that person passed on. It happens to all of us eventually... We carefully planned what-if scenarios and budgets so that we'd be ready, because it can be scary thinking of supporting a large family while starting over again with your job or career.  Yet, no one can really plan for death, Can they?

Sadly, over Christmas the man my husband cared for became sick rather unexpectedly and passed away.

My 12 year old son, Brayden, was quite attached to this man. Brayden was his favorite of all our kids (but shhhh don't tell the others...).  We think it's because Brayden has ADHD and is often in trouble at school and at home, and the man my husband cared for felt the strong need to reach out to him and make him feel special.   Brayden took his passing very hard. He was sad and depressed for several days. He still has his moments of sadness.  Watching your child grieve is hard for a parent to do, although I know its another one of those necessary lessons of life.

So that brings us to 2015...big changes. The reality of it all is that we have to figure out a new path in life now, a new career, and income to support our large family. I have no idea what to expect in 2015, but I hope it brings us some good changes and lots of happiness!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

One More Catch-Up Post...

I can't believe that the last time I posted a blog update was July (before my recent one a couple weeks ago)! I missed so many fun things that happened this summer and fall.

So one last catch-up post in pictures:

First of all - our big family trip this summer was to Silverwood (a semi-local version of a smaller scale Disneyland). We spent the whole day there, only going home at closing time. It was exhausting but the kids had a blast.

The older boys kept trying to win toys at the game booths with no luck. Gabe (age 5) kept begging to go to a certain game and win this giant stuffed lemur. We told him that it's very hard to win toys, so not to be disappointed. However, his first attempt up there he won a small toy AND a large toy (he got three balls for one attempt). He was VERY happy and proud of himself. He named his giant lemur Mr. Cuddles.

Billy Jr and Gabe LOVED the little kids' rides. There were a lot more of them this year (little kids' rides)!

Abby got tired of walking (even though we had a stroller with us) so her big brother offered to carry her for a (short)while!

To beat the boredom, one summer day I took the kids to a local "island" walking trail.

Look at Billy Jr's socks!! That was after they played in the water some.

When we stopped to read some signs along the nature trail (talking about the type of native plants there) -  Brayden saw something brightly colored in the weeds. It was a geocache!!

Gabe got a pair of sunglasses from the geocache.

First day of school!!!!!! Everyone was pretty tired in this picture from trying to adjust to the new early morning schedule. We have a 10th grader, 7th grader, 5th grader, 2nd grader, and kindergartner!

Gabe's in kindergarten now!

Billy (dad) made us an awesome homework station!  This was just after it was completed, but now it has books on the shelves below and some lamps. :)

That brings us to....Halloween! 

Carving pumpkins:

Billy jr didn't want to touch the pumpkin guts so he tried wearing plastic bags on his hands:

Abby even helped!

Four of the finished pumpkins....

The kids' costumes: Owen was a scary clown, Gabe a ghost pirate, Brayden a werewolf, Billy Jr a ninja, Abby a princess/Elsa, and Eden was a pink poodle. Also two extra friends pictured here... :)

Crazy Owen!

The candy haul! The boys were trying to play a game where they traded/bet candy. Surprisingly it didn't end up in a fight. ;)

Then mommy and the girls went on a road trip to visit their Auntie and cousins (including a new baby cousin!) This was actually my first time taking a long trip alone with the baby, but also my first time driving over the mountain passes and on a freeway. Yikes! My Garmin GPS did a very good job helping me though. :)

We went with the cousins to an aquarium. :) 

Abby and her cousin hugging...awww. What the picture doesn't show is Abby trying to claim EVERY animal there as HERS. "Mine!" she'd say, and try to edge out her cousin from even getting close to the glass/fence. 

Cute Abby :) 

Pretty fishies!

And a petting zoo too!

 The end for now! We had a lot more adventures that I didn't get pictures of. However, I'm going to try to do much better at that in the new year! :)

Until next time....

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Catch-Up Post: First and Last Pageant

While looking through my pictures, I realized I haven't updated much over the last few months! So here is one quick catch-up post.

I decided to try putting Abby in a little mini-pageant to just try it out and learn how it all worked.
While it was fun, I am pretty sure it was her first and last pageant. Mostly I was doing it to get Abby her very own crown. 

I realized that I just didn't have the patience for it! Abby just wanted a princess crown and that was all she cared about. Getting her to walk a certain way and smile was almost too much. She usually is full of smiles and personality, but not in front of judges!
I also realized that I don't take criticism of my daughter's  beauty very well. While I understand the judging of her personality and whether she was outgoing, engaging and so on - I don't understand how beauty can be judged and why she was marked down points on the photogenic portion.  See? The whole points thing - it can obsess a person.

However, I did get some VERY cute pictures out of it. I also had a lot of fun dressing Abby up and having a girly day. I never thought I'd have that!

Now...onto the pictures:

Her head shot that we got mysteriously marked down a ton of points for:

See? She didn't really want to cooperate. ha!

She did take a brief moment to give the judges a cheesy smile though!

After she got her crown...she kept insisting on wearing it backwards.

Cute girl!

Back of her crown - but also showing her cute bows someone made for me, and the back of her hair :)


Thursday, December 4, 2014

You can't force something that just doesn't fit...

Education is not one-size-fits-all.Everyone learns in different ways, and that is a scientifically proven fact. So why is our public schools - in general - rigid in how they teach children? Some children may excel and flourish in that type of setting. I have a couple children who do very well with the teaching and learning methods at public school.

Then I have those who don't...

I have a child who's learning style is like trying to fit a square peg into a round just doesn't fit.

I'm tired of trying to pound him into fitting the public school mold. It doesn't work for him. The only thing it's doing is destroying his confidence and self-esteem. How fun is learning if everyday is just more stress and pressure to sit completely quiet and still or else risk constant discipline and being labeled a difficult student/child?  What does that do to someone's self-worth?

I knew it was finally time to readdress things when my son continually called home from school at least once a week with various complaints of  headaches and stomach aches. He admitted later that he was never sick, but that he can just concentrate better at home. Not to mention that the stress of having to always focus on sitting still gives him anxiety (thus the stomachaches and headaches..)

Why keep pushing things? Who or what is it helping?

Thankfully we live in a time when there are so many other educational options. There is traditional homeschooling, unschooling, online/cyber schooling, eclectic homeschooling, classical homeschooling, and so on and so on.   My current plan is to enroll him in an online school for the remainder of this school year. His academic progress and goals will be supervised by a certified teacher as well as his curriculum and testing. We can then evaluate where we are at the end of the school year and what works best for him beyond that.

The bottom line is that I'm responsible for my child's education - every parent is.  I can't worry about what others might say or think, but only what is best for my child. And right now...he's drowning. I can't sit back and watch him struggle anymore...

Check back next week for more updates and holiday fun! I'm in my last week of school myself for this year, so I hope to pick back up with the blog again over break. :)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hot hot hot! Fires, Feingold, and Fun

Well, fire season 2014 has begun! Several fires have begun within just the last couple weeks. The  morning after the Fourth of July, my husband woke me up at some early AM hour to show me that the hillside across the river from us was on fire. It was quite breathtaking of a view. I attempted a picture, but my camera skills aren't so great that early in the morning.

That fire didn't last very long thankfully, since it did get awfully close to some houses (like in t he back yard of a couple houses up there!).  Currently, the biggest one is just about 15 miles from here and over 20,000 acres, but the good news is that no homes or lives have been lost. Its been pretty close to town though! (See pic below...NOT my pic)

It doesn't help that the weather here has been HOT HOT HOT! We've had a couple triple digit days already, and next week is forecast to be ALL triple digits: 103, 105, and even as high as 110.  Yikes.

We tried to cool off the kids by taking them to the river. You can see how smokey it was in the background. I think the boys had fun though, although they complained the water was too cold. Amazingly, my wild energetic 5 year old was the first to get wet. That child has no fear. Good or bad thing, I don't know yet!

Love how the boys always help watch out for their sister(s).

And lastly, I forgot Feingold Friday, I know. I had planned on getting that post done last night while baby was sleeping, however I got suddenly busy. We are currently ripping out our front overgrown flower bed and putting in an awesome patio...stay tuned for before and after pictures (and by WE I mean my husband...). Last night we bought the stone for the patio. Then my husband worked into early morning preparing the ground and digging up roots (because its much cooler at night then during the day!).
Back to Feingold though...its going! I did my first shopping trip, and it was stressful. Things were going well until I left the healthy/organic foods section. It seems every brand we usually eat is full of the bad stuff (aka not real food).'s going to be a long learning process.
I'd say we are 80% Feingold this week...and 20% junk still. I bought the wrong hot dogs, it was free slurpy day at 7-Eleven yesterday, and I wanted to eat up some non-Feingold foods this week because I hate to waste. Next week will be better though! I have my meal plan done through the month. However we are going camping next weekend, and I have no idea how to go camping with a large family on Feingold. The organic hot dogs were $8 for a six-pack. Yeah. Not happening. It will be our last camping trip for the year though, so we might just have to forget about Feingold that weekend. Uggh I hate how easy and cheap junk "food" is. We'll get there though! I do have some recipes for homemade marshmallows...but I'm still working on how to make hot dogs healthy. Maybe that's an impossible feat though...