THE LIEBSTER AWARD

A week ago, Kaira and I received the honor of being nominated for the Leibster Award by Morgan Isabella Shaw of Brains and Bodies blog. Of course, we graciously accept the nomination and want to thank Morgan, profusely. Please help us thank her by checking her out at Brains and Bodies, where you will get all kinds of insights on what it is like to live and function (especially as a college student) with a disability.

Don’t worry. We didn’t know what the Leibster Award was either. So, allow us to explain… The Leibster Award is a recognition to new bloggers, who have a following of less than 200. This provides a great opportunity for new bloggers, like us, to get some awesome exposure- with an outcome (hopefully) of building your numbers. Once a blogger received a nomination, the idea is that that person will then pick 5 to 11 new bloggers to receive the Leibster- and of course everyone nominated should be following the rules, lol. 

Thanks again, Morgan!

And now ensuring we follow the rules…

      OUR FAVORITE BLOG

Without a doubt, our favorite blogger is Shelly Sangrey, author of There’s No Place Like Home. Shelly is a momma of a bunch of kids and she is definitely who or what I would consider an expert in the field of homeschooling. Also, she is a follower and believer of Christ. When it comes to homeschooling, I trust her completely. Not to mention the awesome ideas she has. If you can’t tell, I kind of admire her- and I might secretly want to be just like her whenever I grow up. I could go on and on about the fabulous that is writer and homeschooler Shelly Sangrey, but in fear of being weird, I shall move on.

      ***TEN RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME***

* I talk to dead people. (Not the crystal ball type of talking. More like the where do you come from, type of talking… In other words, I am a family historian/ amateur genealogist.

* I seem to collect kids- so, I don’t actually know how many I have. I have birthed 3, though.

* I am the oldest of three children.

* Even though I, myself, am an adult, I don’t think of my mom as ever getting older. So I am always amazed when I realize how old she actually is.

* I have a brain injury. I don’t remember anything, so if you tell me something and I don’t write it down, it is as good as you never told me. You’ve been warned.

* I always wanted to be a dancer in Broadway or a Rockette. (Sadly, though, I am 2.5 inches to short to even be considered for the Rockettes.)

* I know every word of Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and the Little Mermaid. Are you shocked and amazed, yet?

* I know every single dance routine to the Newsies. (The original, not the Broadway come back.)

* I have only bought one Lotto ticket in my life and someone had to show me how to play.

* All of my natural born children have names that begin with the letter K.

      11 Questions Morgan Asked Me

1.What hobby/skill do you want to learn?

I have always wanted to learn how to crochet. (But, I have so much going on in life right now that I would be crazy to take on another ANYTHING right now)

2. What is your biggest fear?

I try not to live my life with any type of fear, but if I had to name something that I am fearful of, it would be raising my boys in the environment that is the USofA right now and the possible negative outcomes that could be associated with those social engagements. (I hope I put that nice enough to not offend anyone and direct enough that I have conveyed my meaning clearly.)

3. What made you begin blogging?

 I started blogging (about homeschooling) because I am so in love with this journey that I wanted to share it with the world. I also try to find and use free or nearly free resources, especially due to my current life situation and I wanted an outlet to share with others how homeschooling is possible without spending tons and tons of money. What pushed me over to the blogging side of homeschool, ultimately, was the amount of inquiries I was getting in my Facebook inbox regarding how to get started or how to do it.

4. Who is your biggest inspiration and why?

My mom is my biggest inspiration. She has been through so much over the last 20+ years and she has soldiered onward. She has taught me how to keep going at life, even when life throws curve balls and you don’t have any bats in hand.

5. What are your three favourite films and why?

I don’t actually have favorite films… I don’t watch a whole lot of TV, including movies. I enjoy a good movie, but I’m not sure any of them rate as a favorite. Newsies, of course is up there with movies that I would watch over and over. Come to think of it, so is The Princess Bride. I don’t know that there are any others…

6. What is your biggest achievement? 

My biggest achievement, would be the right I took on a few years ago, for the children (students) of Richmond, Virginia and their well-being within that school system. During this process, I was able to meet some great people in the advocacy field and I learned how to be a true advocate for myself and others. It was on this journey that I discovered who I am on the world of advocacy. So that’s my greatest achievement, because I feel like that experience enabled me to be in the place I am in currently in this thing called life.

7. Where is on your travel list for 2018 and why?

The beach. I don’t care if I don’t get to go to any other place, as long as I can get to the beach. It is the happiest place on Earth, in my opinion.

8. Are you more of a peoples or animals person?

It depends on what day you ask me. Most of the time, I am hands down a people person. I love talking to people and finding out what makes them tick. I also love pushing and motivating people to their next level in life. Generally speaking, I LOVE PEOPLE. Except when I don’t. (Don’t act like you have never been completely peopled out.) When I have had enough of the people for a bit, I seek out my cat, TigerLilly or our horse, Buttons. They both just intuitively know how to soothe and calm my soul.

9. What do you hope to achieve from your blog? 

World Domination. 

Seriously, I wrote for the joy of writing and hopefully to encourage Kaira to write with a better grasp of the English language and how to utilize it with all of its neat little grammar rules and regulations. I would also love to have a solid group of people who read my blog and are able to take something away from our homeschool journey or add to it in some form or fashion. That would be awesome. In some recessed portion of my brain, I also think it would be spectacular if I gained this awesome following and was able to turn my blog into my income. 

10. What is your hidden talent?

I’m a mom, isn’t that talent enough? Seriously, though, I love to sing and at times am able to carry a melodic tune. *Insert sarcastic curtsy here*

11. What advice would you give to someone considering starting a blog?

DO IT. Don’t stop to overthink it or worry about the gazillion what ifs that could happen. Just jump in and START.

And now, 11 Questions for my nominees… 

1. If you could introduce your child or children to any ONE person (past or present) to learn ONE lesson, who would that person be and what would the lesson be?

2. What does your dream home look like and where is it?

3. Outside of family and your job or extra curricular activities, how do you define yourself?

4. If people only read one of your posts, what post should they read and why?

5. What is the greatest lesson you have ever learned?

6. Who is your super hero and why?

7.  Burgers or Salads?

8. Around the world in 80 days, where are your must stop destinations?

9. Why do you blog?

10. What is your passion?

11. What’s the best book you ever read and why?

NOW, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER, HERE ARE THE NOMINEES! (drum roll, please ūü•Ā)

Gemma Hartnick Tilley of Chief Squirrel 

Sarah of  Holistic Homeschooler

(Kaira’s Nomination) My Mom! Divine Ms Kim’s Time Travel

Nadine Best at Making Her Mama

Jenny, creator of Faith and Good Works

Joanna Myers and  Just the Mini Mom

KP Hari with Keralot Inspiresd

Carley, A.K.A Mrs. Pigeon’s Coop

Samantha Hughes of The Mouse Ear Life

Chelle Ramsey of Chelle Ramsey

Jennifer from Adventures in Mommy Life

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The Classroom

A few weeks before we were due to start our official homeschool journey, I committed a gregarious error. That is, I made a huge mistake. I went on the internet and looked to see what other homeschools looked like- because I wanted to make sure I was ‘doing it right’. My first mistake was thinking there was a ‘right’ way to homeschool, but I didn’t comprehend or realize this right away. I became obsessed with all of the beautiful pictures of other’s homeschool classrooms. You can see some of those classroom pictures,¬†here. There is no denying, they are beautiful- if that is your thing.

For awhile, I was pretty bummed. We live in an apartment and we don’t have the room to have a dedicated school classroom and call it selfish or whatever, but I was also not willing to restructure either the dining room or the living room into a school room. I’ve done that before, when I did in-home pre-school… I dedicated what should have been the master bedroom to our pre-school room and it was fabulous and great. Truthfully, if I had the room now, I am not sure I wouldn’t have done the same thing- especially for the boys. What can I say? The Early Childhood Educator in me loves a well set up and functioning classroom.

But we’re talking about our homeschool classroom, aren’t we? Thankfully, God placed someone in my path to get me off of that rack fairly quickly. She reminded me through a facebook post to not get envious of what other people are doing. Duh. One of the many reasons we are homeschooling is to get away from the one size fits all type of education public school was giving Kaira. So, why was I so concerned about what other people were doing? Also, from the beginning I have been pretty adamant about staying away from anything that screamed school. So, why was I obsessed with how a classroom should look?

We do not have a classroom. You may recall me sharing a few pictures of how we homeschool in¬†The First Week of School. Here are a few more to show how we keep track of things…

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As you can see, I back tracked slightly on the turning the dining room into a classroom. It has always acted as central office- with the printer homed there, but now, it also includes the school/art supplies, too. On the secretary desk, we have all of the pencils/pens/crayons, notebooks and small art/craft supplies. The globe is also there (because it won’t stay hung in the air, as we would prefer it to do.) Also sitting on the desk are rulers, hole punch (3 punch and single punch). In the pink basket is the boy’s ‘work’ for the week and coordinating lapbook. (Currently, there is only one lapbook, bear with us, we are just starting out- it should eventually be filled with pre preschool lapbooks.) Hidden in the drawers of the desk are things like stamps, thumb tacks, staples, dry erase markers, paper clips/clamps and labels. Underneath of the desk, is a 3 drawer plastic container, which houses tissue paper/paper bags/ plastic cups and other decorative art supplies in the first drawer; glue ( we have tons of glue, from glue sticks to rubber glue to spray on glue, we’ve got it all) in the second drawer and paint in the bottom drawer. The printer station, is now home to all of the paper- construction, foam, print, sparkle, card stock, laminating, graphing, etc. ( I am amazed at how much paper we have and yet I can ALWAYS use more… for something…) The cabinet under the printer is designated for our important files as well as extra folders and binders we have collected over the years. Beside the printer, you will find our laminator and wood writing tools. Next to the printer cabinet (also under the desk), is the sensory bucket- it is currently empty, but has already housed water for water play and will house rice and other materials in the coming months. Finally, there is a box in front of the white plastic drawers that is where we place all of those newspapers and advertisements that come to us in the mail ( we’ve got to keep my table looking pretty, somehow!)¬†The wall (only one) has also become a part of our homeschool. BUT, it isn’t a takeover. We find it to be a happy medium. Hopefully, as we progress into the year, it will remain as such. Especially since I can tend to be a hoarder when it comes to school work or art displays… The living room definitely doubles as a playroom, lol! (I have always been particular about the toys in my home, so everything presents an opportunity for learning, in some way or another. There are things for gross motor skills and cognitive awareness and so forth… Hidden by the lamp is our sidewalk chalk and on the white bookshelf are our games- and the overflow of books from the hallway. The bookshelf in the hallway houses books and pictures (of course) AND it is home to all of the school things we have collected over the years (when Kaira, Kayla and Kyle were in public school and people would give the/me things to help them over the summer, or what have you). We use those things from time to time, but not as frequently as those things on or near the desk… Finally, there is the kitchen…. Surprised to find that I included a picture of my kitchen in pictures about my homeschool set up? You shouldn’t be. Lots of learning takes place there! Whether it is water play, a cooking activity or simply doing the dishes- someone is learning in there!

But don’t get caught up in what our homeschool looks like!¬†One of the great things about homeschooling is that you can tailor it to the specific needs of your child or children. There isn’t a this is how it should be done rule/handbook.

Here are a few things that I think are handy to remember when homeschooling, but these are for practicality reasons and NOT because you have to do them. (In fact, I am sure others would take from or add to this list!)

  • Know where your school things are (this cuts down on the stress associated with not being able to find something)
  • Have a plan ( it doesn’t have to be written out in a beautiful planner or in a notebook and it can be as simple as knowing what you want to teach or have your kids learn over a given period of time- day/week/month/year; at the bare minimum, I would suggest a check list)
  • Be flexible. (Nothing ever goes according to plan. Being fluid and going with the flow cuts down on stress for both you and your child/children and actually helps lessons to be learned more quickly than if the signs of stress or feelings of being rushed were present)
  • Enjoy every moment of it. (This is a great time between you and your little people, even though it doesn’t always seem that way. And why would you do anything, if you didn’t enjoy what you are doing?)
  • Messes are okay. (This is something you should get used to- especially if you have a tiny apartment and creative brain like me. I have learned to live with the mess during the day, because I know lots of learning is happening and then clean things up at night to start all over again in the morning…)

So, that’s it. I hope these homeschool tips will help you on your own homeschool journey- whether you have been on it for a while or are just starting out! Let us know if you have any this works best tips or this failed miserably for us stories in the comments! We can’t wait to hear them! We would also love to see pictures of your homeschool set up! Why does it work for you? Has it always been this way or do you change it up from time to time?

I recently joined a fabulous group of women, who are sharing some wonderful advice on homeschool organization. I would love for you to join me in checking each of them out!

blog party

It’s not to late for you to¬†join the party!

Check out these great blog stories on homeschool organization!

They Call Me Blessed 

The Musings of Mum

Lit Mama Homeschool

Thrive Homeschooling

Deliberate Homeschooling

Ranching with Kids

Making her Mama

Plum Cheeky Solutions

Unhurried Home

Ana Willis

Bethany Ishee

Kingdom First Homeschool

 

Car Rides Tell All

car ride Yesterday, Kaira and I were riding in the car, taking care of some errands- when I turned the radio down, thinking it would be a great time for us to connect with each other. Normally, when I do this, I get a typical pre-teen eye roll, an exaggerated Mooooom, an attempt to readjust the volume- with an attitude to follow for good measure. Yesterday, though, God had mercy on me and non of that happened.

You know what did happen? We talked. We had genuine- more than yes or no/one word answer- conversation. It was a real treasure for me. The topic of conversation? School. Again, under ‘normal’ circumstances, this alone would have been cause for attitude. God was really blessing me, because there was no attitude, no eye roll, no nothing. Only us conversing.

Here are the questions I asked Kaira and her responses. (Yes, I know it reads like an interview. I typed it that way, so Kaira could type her answers.)

How are you liking school so far and what is your favorite thing about school so far?

Surprisingly, I am actually mostly liking school. My favorite thing is getting to wear my pajamas to school. Except on Tuesday when we have our breakfast with all the other home school people. I like that I school can be mobile, like if I have an appointment, I can just take the computer and my notebook with us and turn on the hot spot and do work. But if I was in public school still, it would be an absence and I wouldn’t be able to take it with me like that.

***the breakfast, she is referring to is The Not Back to School Breakfast for home schooling families in the RVA area. If you are in the area and want to come, please shoot me an email  and I will make sure you get all the details!***

What do you mean, mostly liking school?

Well, I do really like it, except sometimes I feel rushed. But I know I’m not really rushed, it’s just sometimes I feel like I am. But I know it is my fault I am feeling rushed. If I would just do my work when I get up, instead of at night-time, then I wouldn’t feel rushed.

So, what do you think should be done about this?

I think I should start getting up and just doing my work instead of keep on putting it off and then I have to do it when I am tired.

What have you learned so far, that you like the most/least?

[laughing] Poetry and the embalming! Wait, can I say the embalming is my least favorite and history is my favorite? [A nod from me] But also science is my favorite some too. I really like making a skin model. And I am even getting pretty good at math,¬†even though I wasn’t that great at it in public school. I actually like everything about school, really.

I didn’t get video of her response to watching the embalming, but I did get video of her watching a real knee surgery for science, which is just as fantastic!

Do you like it better when you sit and do math with me, so I can kind of tell if you are getting frustrated or do you like doing it by yourself?

I like doing it with you. I like how you don’t yell at me and tell me I have to hurry up and that I can take my time and we don’t rush and we don’t move on until I get it.

Cool.

I’m sure we talked about other things, but those were the things that stuck out in my head, and grabbed hold of my mom brain. She is learning and retaining things and it is so awesome to see happening right in front of me.

This wasn’t a part of out car ride conversation, but it was another moment that made me proud to be her mom and since it fit in with today’s post, I wanted to share it with you all. As a part of her Bible lesson, she had to read Mathew 8 and then answer the question, “would you rather be poor or rich?” and then identify what she believed the most important lesson from the reading was.

This was her response-

Yep. I am blessed to have her as a daughter.

 

What ‘ah-ha’ moments- as Oprah calls them- have you had? We would love to hear about them! If this post encouraged you or made you smile or chuckle, please share and like this also!

Is This Really a Good Idea???

Every. Single. Day. I have asked myself if homeschooling was really a good idea. I have worried that I have bitten off pounds more than I can carry. I think I gained 50 more prominent grey hairs. There have been tears- lots of them. I mean big fat tears, the result of which can only come from hard, ugly crying. This week has not been the yellow brick road of adventure it is supposed to be.

Obviously, I thought about scrapping this adventure entirely. I think I uttered the words, “you will go back to public school”- no less than one hundred times. I do not jest or exaggerate. Nothing seemed to go as planned (at least not to my very need to have and be in control mind).

I talked to God several times about this mission. Thankfully, He would not allow me to abort. I am also really grateful to the many home school groups I belong to on social media, because that is definitely a supportive tribe. An important note here: if you are homeschooling, you’ve got to get yourself a tribe. Your tribe will be more valuable than silver, gold or frankincense, I guarantee it.

Anyway, back to this week… I had planned on starting pre pre-school with the boys Monday. Except, I never finished my lesson plan. Now, I know they are just barely almost two and don’t need a full day of structure. BUT. I need a plan. Lesson plans are for me like GPS is for you… So, I NEED them. Even if they are just a quick at a glance look at the things I want the boys to know. Here it is Friday and I still haven’t finished them or even really looked at them, since Sunday. Hopefully, this weekend will yield some time to get this done and we will really start on Monday.

We might not have had everything planned out and I was probably pulling things out more for this will entertain you value and less for this is going to help you learn this specific thing. but we made it through. And believe it or not, they had fun, didn’t pick up on my stresses and learned some things! Imagine that.

They played in the water tub on my kitchen floor- so they were learning math (weights and pouring, as well as sinking and floating); since they are not quite two, they also had lots of fun splashing the water everywhere, including onto each other and the entire floor. Which of course means they learned how to clean up spills with towels. Another time, I sat them in their respective chairs and they colored… (so they learned to be creative, use those fine motor skills and more, I’m sure). We went outside and drew with chalk and kicked and threw some balls. They were able to run around (gross motor skills, hand eye coordination, etc.). Finally, we read books. lots and lots of books. We are building book lovers and language usage.

Another helpful tidbit: you are doing enough, so stop doubting yourself. You got this home school thing, I promise!

As for Kaira, I was convinced that we had to stay on this schedule (one that lives only in the recesses of my brain), a perfect timeline if you will. (Learned this pretty quickly: there is no such thing as a perfect time line.) Except, I’m pretty sure Kaira never got that memo and if she did, she hardly cared. It was definitely a rough and rocky start, as I may have already mentioned…

When I asked her today, how she thought it went, her response was, “it was actually, fairly good.” Hmmph. Next time I will take pictures of her crocodile tears… But, like with the boys, we somehow pulled through. I am not a night owl. I would much rather be up early and in bed early… You just know God is a jokester, when I tell you Kaira is a night owl and doesn’t do very well with early wake up calls… The first few nights of this week, we did school at night; very near to midnight and beyond, actually. I am not built for that lifestyle, I promise. So, I imposed a bed time of sorts… Instead of laying down the long arm of the law, I simply informed Kaira that she needed to be ready to start school by 9:30 every day. Telling her this was great, because she still has control over what time she goes to bed, but also makes her aware of the expectation. (I also had to set everyone else in the house straight- just because Kaira is here, doesn’t mean that it is play time all day, everyday. School needs to be respected. Doing that, eliminated some of the grumpiness and complaints, also. Here is yet another tip for you: it is okay to compromise. Set the expectation and make sure everyone involved is on the same page.

Again, this was a process and I am convinced pulling teeth might have been easier, initially. We aren’t quitters, so we kept plugging away. (This is kind of what we do in life, anyway, right? Keep going when it gets tough.)

I am so glad we did. We had great fun. (By we, you must know that Kaira did the work and I enjoyed her enthusiasm.) We did not go out to view the solar eclipse, but we did watch NASA TV for no less than four hours- resulting in Kaira already planning out her trip when she is 19 to see totality. (There is a lesson in this, also, my good people. All TV isn’t bad.) Kaira made a skin model. She created AND designed it. She made papyrus-like paper. (It stinks to high heaven during the drying process, by the way.) She created art on canvas. (I didn’t even know she liked art and here again, she hand drew something and then painted it, with absolutely zero instruction from me.) She painted a rock and she watched a video on the ancient Egyptian’s embalming process. As if that weren’t enough fun, she ASKED for a science project to do once she finishes the bone/muscle unit. This was truly an exciting development. The lesson in all of this? Allow your child/children to be creative. They just might surprise you!

We also knew when to throw in the towel- one assignment had us go to the store and try to see if the store’s unit pricing was the same price we came up with. It was marked as a challenge… As for the challenge, itself- we failed. But, we gave it a valient effort and are proud of the teamwork we put in. We didn’t stress over not getting it and we didn’t keep trying to beat a dead horse. We just moved on. You guessed it, another tip: it is okay to fail; it is okay to move on and trying is learning.

All in all, our week was hugely successful despite what we (read: I) believed were major disasters during our journey….

Have you started school? What bumps in the road, if any, have you run into? How did you get over them them? Do you have any tips to share? We’d love to hear it all! Leave us a comment with all the “gory” details and if it’s not to much trouble, please hit those like and share buttons for us!

The First Week of School

back to school

We know everyone has been anxiously waiting to hear all about our first day of school and we are excited to share it with you- so your waiting is over!

Enjoy the adventure!

Monday

kaira school 2.jpg

It is the first day of school! Things could not have gone any smoother! (By the end of the week, I would look back on Monday and wonder if it was a dream or if it had really happened…)

Kaira woke up (ON HER OWN) around 9. a.m- as planned and wanted to get started right away. As excited as I was at her energy, I wanted to sort of establish a quazi routine, so I marched her off to eat breakfast and take care of her hygiene before we started school. (Rest assured, though, I am fairly certain that there will be more days than not where school happens in our pajamas, but for today, she needed real, going outside clothes on.)

After all this, we got to work. Kaira did school and I cleaned the house. When she finished her work, she came to me and we talked about the things she had either read or learned about. She had to write her own poem; we discussed the meaning of a poem; she read the Bible and discovered the lineage of Joseph… It was great to relate this to the genealogy/family history work I do within our own family (if you are interested in reading about that, you can do so, here)¬†and we may have even went off on a slight tangent, that I may be writing about on my other Blog, soon- but that is the awesomeness of homeschooling! You have time to explore the tangents and things that really interest your child, all while learning!

Monday’s ‘school day came to a close a mere two and a half hours after it had began… I can’t believe we learned/covered so much in that amount of time! It was awesome and Kaira enjoyed having the rest of the day to do and explore whatever she desired. She went to an appointment and when she came home, she was eager to practice the piano- a new skill she is learning!

Tuesday

I should have told Kaira that just because she was not going to public school didn’t mean that she didn’t have a respectable bed time. BUT. I didn’t. Instead, I told her that she had to get up in the morning to do do school, because she had things to do with 4 H at noon ¬†and yet another appointment in the afternoon. I thought that was enough… that is what I get for thinking, though. Kaira had great fun staying up on Monday night (I think I woke up around 2 am and told her to take her behind to bed), so she didn’t wake up early, bushy tailed and bright eyed- as she had the day before. She woke up around 10:45, grumpy, because the babies were actually the ones who woke her. She was cranky and she definitely was not in the mood for school. My suggestion? Eat breakfast and do some math while she ate- that way she wouldn’t have to do it later on in the evening… This worked and she eventually came out from under the cloud of grumpiness. We made it to her 4 H activity and her afternoon appointment. But we still had babies running around, so it wasn’t calm until 8 or 9 and that is when Kaira finished the rest of her school for the day. She wasn’t to upset about it at first, but then she decided she was tired and that she didn’t want to do anymore work… She skipped out on her science (which I discovered later) and may have only just skimmed over other parts of school for the day. Hmmm… This was definitely something I would have to think on in the future in order to keep this from happening again…

Wednesday

kairachool4

 

NO SCHOOL TODAY!!! Well, school in the traditional sense that you are thinking, anyway. Today, Kaira went to a behind the scenes day camp at the Richmond Metro Zoo,  where she was able to learn about the care of the animals and other things about zoo operation and of course- she also had some fun!

This is another benefit of homeschooling. Kaira has decided that she wants to be a veterinarian, so as a homeschool student, we are able to find activities and lessons that will help her reach her goal of being a veterinarian, WHILE she is learning, having fun and doing ‘normal’ school things.

In Kaira’s words…

We fed the rhinos, well not actually fed them, because they are dangerous. We just put the hay out for them. I touched a snake and an iguana and the giraffes and goats and penguins. We got to see the baby animals and the birds that are walking around can’t fly away because their wings are clipped. We did the zip line and I was scared at first, but I just took a deep breath and told myself “you can do this” and I did it. I’m glad I did it, because it was fun. I can’t wait to go back next year! Oh and I got to touch a parrot and feed the birds and some kids sat on the tortoise, but I didn’t. Next year, I am going to take a picture with the parrot.

Can’t you just hear the excitement in her writing voice? I am excited for next year already, as well. I am already looking for other things she can do also (both now and in the future)- especially because I think after next year, she will age out of the camp… Please let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions!

Thursday

 

I woke up sick as five dogs. Bless her heart, Kaira jumped in and watched the babies for me so I could stay in bed. She is wonderful in this way. Unfortunately, it also meant that she didn’t get any school done in the morning, as we had planned. This was okay, though, because babies take a nap, right? To my sick and weary mind, this was a great plan… To Kaira, it meant nap time for her, too. I guess my words, “Now that the babies are sleeping, go ahead and get your school done” were muddled or lost in translation… Needless to say, not much got done. Actually, NOTHING got done and I had a bit of a public school moment; where I freaked out because Kaira hadn’t done her school work. It wasn’t pretty and it ended in me having to apologize to her afterwards… Learn from my experience folks- just keep your mouth shut and let it go, sometimes, because it is okay.

Anyway, that’s how Thursday ended. So much for great laid plans, huh?

Friday

I still wasn’t feeling the best, but we both woke up ready to tackle this day of school work. As I mentioned previously, we are following a curriculum- but it isn’t a very rigid, set in stone curriculum. It is a 180 days worth of school, so we have the freedom to school whenever… However, I know me and I need to stick to some sort of routine or it will never get done, because it will always be pushed to the back burner…

So, school it was. Kind of. It was the dentist, first. Then by the time we got home, I was drained and I needed a nap. And Kaira ‘enjoyed’ the babies for me… Then we were ready for school around 3 in the afternoon. With Kaira sitting on my bed and the babies playing all around us, we got to school stuff…

We managed to finish and catch up on a lot of the things Kaira had skipped or not done. It was great. I decided that when she came back from camp (she comes back on Thursday) we would finish what we hadn’t gotten to and then move on. Another pro for homeschooling.

It isn’t always pros, though… Math. Ugh. We got stuck on her math. We had to call in reinforcements. I have taken it to Facebook and I will take it to the math wiz at church… I am determined to find the solution and know how to teach it to her when she comes back. I guess, homeschooling isn’t always the child learning. Sometimes, it is parent and child learning together. The great thing that did come out of this was that Kaira was able to see me not know something and as frustrated as I was at not grasping it, thankfully- this time- I handled it right and now she knows that you don’t have to let it get the best of you and that it is perfectly acceptable to ask for help; it is also perfectly alright to take a break and come back to something that is frustrating you. Which is what we did. We are taking a week long break from math- well, at least she is. I am still here trying to figure it out. I would love your insight! Here is the video we watched. (Keep in mind that we DO UNDERSTAND cross multiplying. It is all the other stuff he did that we had the deer in the headlights look with.)

math problem

And this is the problem that has seemingly outwitted us… along with the response we were given when we entered what we thought was the obvious answer.

On the other side of this coin, she was really into the history and we spent 45 minutes watching a video on the pyramids and how engineers were on a race to save the oldest pyramid in Egypt fro m falling to the ground. (Spoiler alert- it didn’t fall)

So, all in all, this was a pretty good first week of school. We learned a bunch of new things- and we are excited to see what comes next! I, especially, have learned that Kaira needs to be on some kinds of routine and as much as I want to leave the formal school structure behind us, some of that isn’t necessarily a ¬†bad thing. I also learned how to start a Facebook group and did for my fellow African American home schoolers in Central VA and surrounding areas… Please join us¬†if you’d like.

So, how did you spend your week? Have you started school? How is school going? We can’t wait to hear all about your own home school adventures! We want to hear from you and we would love it if you gave us a like, share or even a follow!

 

Pushing Past The FEAR

I am starting to feel like I am already behind in this homeschooling adventure and we haven’t even actually started school yet. Oye! When we last talked, I told you that Kaira was going to camp next week and we would start school the following week. Whelp, as things tend to do in all things life related- our plans have changed.

I mixed up the camp dates… Thank goodness I needed to call the camp, otherwise I would probably be telling you all about how we packed EVERYTHING up and drove up there only to find out I had messed up. Anyway… camp is the week that we had originally planned on starting school. So, we have decided to start on Monday (yes, as in two days hence time) and then have a break for camp and then get back to it after camp. A lot of you may be thinking that we should just wait until she gets back from camp and plunge in, but this way actually works for us, because we are able to ease into it without all the full on pressure… Or maybe we are just ready for school… At any rate, it is starting Monday.

Immediately after deciding we would start Monday, my body began to revolt… I have had no energy and I am functioning at the most basic of levels right now… (for those of you not in the know, I had a head/brain trauma a few years ago and some times, the side affects rear its ugly head and this just happens to be one of those times).

And the panic began to creep in. I looked around at my house. It is a DISASTER zone. I fretted that we would be starting in a mess and that would breed chaos in our learning environment. Thoughts of being a horrible educator for my child started to eat away at my confidence… I seriously started to wonder if I was up for this adventure.

Next, I received some information about something totally unrelated to homeschooling Kaira, but still had me jittery and in a state of unrest, because in my mind, this news had the potential to interfere with the homeschool adventure and therefore shut it down. I thought about whether now was a good time to homeschool or if perhaps we should get through the hurdles this news presented BEFORE we started this journey.

I was becoming sick with stress… which is not good for anybody at any time, but is especially not healthy if you are JUST starting out on what is supposed to be the adventure of the century.

Then, I agreed, as a new homeschool Blogger, to participate in a blogging event with other bloggers- which means on or before a specific date, I will need to write about a specific topic. This is not a big deal, really, because I was actually planning on writing about the given topic, anyway; I just wasn’t planning on writing about this particular topic so soon… The topic is “homeschool rooms”. I know previously, I showed you a picture of how we get down most days, but I really want to address this for people who have tiny spaces. (More on that in the future.) The problem right now? I shall refer you back to the first point in this list: MY HOUSE IS A DISASTER ZONE.

The  madness is going to drive me bonkers. Have I mentioned that we are also getting back into a more strict riding/farm regimen? There is a state competition in about 6 weeks that we both are doing a bit of stressing over, which I am sure is adding to this not fun mixture of fear, self-doubt and anxiousness.

All of this on top of what I am trying to do within my life. I seriously asked myself why I ‘agreed’ to this in the first place. And as my brain and body seeped further and further into rebellion, I became completely afraid that someone would notice me on a totally bad, horrible day and question my ability to educate Kaira at home and get all kinds of ‘men in suits’ involved and whisk my right and privilege to homeschool her away.

Thank God for a mid afternoon nap and a homeschool support group. Just before I drifted off to sleep, I happened upon a discussion in one of my homeschool support groups where everyone was addressing their ‘greatest homeschool fear’. While no one had my specific fear related to my brain injury, a few people (who suffer from other physical ailments) were concerned about not being able to meet the challenge of homeschooling, some were afraid of dying and having no one to carry the homeschool torch and yet, others still were afraid of big government taking away or interrupting our right to educate our children as we see fit within our homes.

Just knowing I was not the only homeschool parent with fears, began to make my concerns seem less than the impossible mountains I thought they were. And having people encourage you; tell you that you can do it or that in having fear and concerns it showed that you truly cared about your child and would give the best that they needed was a balm to my soul and helped me rest easy.

Having some rest under my belt, also helps me put things in perspective. I can do this. Kaira can do this. We can do this.

Kaira did not readily admit to having any fears or worries about homeschool. That is, until I opened up to her about my biggest fear and concern. She looked at me and said, “now mom, don’t get angry or anything, but I am afraid you are gonna get to teachery and start yelling if I don’t understand something right away.” Oh, the damage public school has done to my poor sweet girl.

In that moment, I am reassured that homeschooling is the absolute most right thing in the world for her and I. Thank God for giving us the things we need, when we need them and in ways we can understand and process them.

We would love to hear from you! Are you a homeschooler who has faced these same fears or others, we would love for you to tell us about them and how you overcame them. Are you considering homeschooling and fear has kept you just on the other side of the proverbial homeschool fence? Maybe you are in public school and having fears about public education- but with no desire to homeschool? We want to hear from you, too! Please leave us a comment, give us a like and a share! We would be totally blessed if you followed us, as well! (We’re trying to get new content up at the beginning and end of the week!)

Finally, Kaira wants you to know that when you leave a comment, she is the one responding ūüėČ

See you next time!

 

Ready. Set. Jump In.

In March 2017, I decided to actually investigate homeschooling Kaira after a fairly rough and uninspired year of public school and the sixth grade. A month later, I was convinced homeschooling was best for Kaira and I. Truth be told however, Kaira had decided nearly a year before me that homeschooling was the best thing for her. Once I decided that we were going to homeschool, the question became how were we going to do it… I scoured the internet for homeschool curriculum. I asked friends what they used in their homeschool. I decided we would homeschool for FREE and we would have a great curriculum. (Insert more internet searching here.) I stumbled upon Easy Peasy. (God bless this mom who has provided an ENTIRE curriculum from Pre school to 12th grade FOR FREE.) I read reviews and joined Facebook groups. Upon coming to the conclusion that THIS would be our curriculum, I masked my enthusiasm and showed Kaira- because of course I wanted her to be just as excited about schooling a different kind of way, right?

Kaira responded with a mere, “I like it”, but I think she was trying to calculate and determine if this was really happening. (I should probably mention that I was already in love with this internet jewel and so it was definitely happening.) After reading up on my state laws, I decided that we would not “officially” homeschool until the coming year. I say officially, because my brain was operating on public school waves. In public school, Kaira struggled in math and had we continued to walk the public school path; she was destined to fail the subject and revisit it during summer school. I also wasn’t wholly convinced that Kaira or I could handle the relaxed environment homeschool provided. So, in order to put my anxieties to rest, I told Kaira that she would do summer school math at home, using our chosen curriculum and we would see how it went before I did anything drastic like withdrawing her from school… And we were off. During the day, she went to school and when she came home in the evening, she was doing 30 minutes of homeschool summer school math. By May, she was telling people that she was “quitting” school at the end of the year and I had left the public school road completely. In fact, the only reason she went to school in those last months was because we didn’t want truancy officers showing up on our door step; but if we’re being honest with each other- her attendance was “less than desirable” to say the least.

By mid June, I had added cursive writing, letter writing (actual hand written letters to newly discovered friends, A.K.A Pen Pals), music (in the form of a FREE online summer music camp), reading and some science to our summer school math program (having decided that we would school year round, of course). Let me tell you- Kaira did not bat an eye. She actually became more and more excited. She did school in her pajamas, in the morning, at night, in the car or wherever she wanted and she was loving it! Don’t get me wrong here… this summer has NOT been a complete bed of roses. Sometimes, I have had to be the mean mom and ‘force’ her to do school work and in those times, I seriously question whether we will survive this homeschool adventure; and then there are those times where everything is fantastic- there is no begging or whining or yelling, work is done with zero complaints and in those moments, I KNOW we have made the right choice and this will be the greatest adventure of our lives. I really like those times. how we homeschool This is how we get down with homeschooling and work and babies on some mornings…

By the time mid July rolled around, I had read our curriculum of choice from beginning to end for our chosen level and year, written a scope for the first week of school (which I have decided I will do weekly, instead of monthly or yearly), organized Kaira’s notebook, learned what a lapbook was and how to make them and even created a detailed list of field trip locations in Virginia- a list that is ever growing, by the way. I even convinced my family (a group of extremely pro public school people) that this was the best thing for Kaira; I could handle the task of educating her (despite having a head/brain injury) and managing also to get them just as (if not more than) excited as Kaira and I were about our new adventure. Finally, I wrote a Home Economics curriculum- using all free materials, naturally- because I could not find one that suited all of our needs. We were ready. We were definitely set. I was ready to just jump in. Kaira, however, was not…

It’s a good thing I didn’t force the issue. It was around this time that some ugly truths started creeping into our homeschool adventure. Let me preface my next statements with this: I do not think public school is a bad choice. I believe public school works and is best for some people. I do not think all teachers are great and I do not think all teachers are horrible. Now, having said all of that, I will say this: Public School failed my child. Teachers failed her by not giving her a chance to learn the material at her own pace or in giving her the proper encouragement/tools needed to be successful and in the language and attitudes they used during their instruction time. In general, any employee of the school system failed my child by allowing these behaviors to continue in their efforts to maintain a passing score on a test that has no baring or standing in my child’s academic life. I first noticed these intruders when Kaira told me she didn’t ask for help, because I was just going to tell her to get over it and do the work… (I would never say that and have never said that, but because this had been her experience in public school, this was her perceptive) It again reared its uninvited ugly self, when Kaira said “I’m horrible at this. I’m never going to get it.” (When in fact, she had been getting it, when allowed to learn at a pace she picked)

 

This is how we de-school, pretty nifty, huh?

I knew that how I handled these intrusions of public school past would determine how our adventure went as we moved forward. The first time it happened, I advised Kaira to take a break and go have fun. Later, I sat with her and we went over everything together and she grasped the idea (imagine that). The second time, having done some more research, we took a break and did some de-schooling. (We had fun. We baked monster mash cup cakes. We made colored ice and then painted with it. We swam. We went to amusement parks. We had loads of fun.) The best part of our de-schooling? Kaira, without being prompted in any way, told people she was still learning and how she was still learning. (It was awesome and definitely goes down as a proud mom moment!)

Before we can fully jump in, we needed to address one final issue- and that is none other than the old “socialization” concern. I admit, I used to be one of those people asking the question, “but how will they socialize?” I wish I could go back in time and erase that from any conversation I have ever had where I uttered that phrase. When I am asked that question now, I really want to say something like ‘noneya’- BUT since my mom and grandparents raised me with more than a bit of decorum, respect and manners AND since I invited you on this adventure, I will not say that. This summer, Kaira has interacted with her best friend; played with people at the pool, participated in 4H (and some of their horse shows); she has talked to people about riding horses; she has developed SEVERAL pen pal friends; she went to a S.T.E.A.M. Conference for girls (where she met and interacted with other girls, all day. Shocking, I know); in a week she will leave me for sleep away camp (she will be fine, I will not) AND at some point in August, she will do a one day camp at the zoo, where she will not only have to communicate with people, but she will get to do it with animals, as well. I think we got socialization covered, don’t you? If you still have concerns, let me try one last time to assuage your (not my) fears… she talks to people. She is shy by nature, but very capable of conversing with adults and children. In fact, she has been known to spot a person in uniform and approach them and thank them for their service to the United States. I think she can handle not being in a square room of 20 or 30 people the same age as her…

Well, now, we are ready to jump in. Almost. We’ve decided to save the jumping for after camp… In the mean time, we’re gonna just stick to our summer schedule and enjoy our time together…

If you enjoyed reading, we would love for you to follow us, like this post and share it with your friends! If you would like the monster mash recipe, a copy of the Virginia field trip list or my Home Ec curriculum, please leave us a comment and we’ll get it to you as soon as possible! Also, we would love to hear your stories of getting ready and set for school (whatever school is for you)- so leave us a comment telling us all about it!