Wednesday, July 22, 2020

2020 Quarterly Goal Update 2

Hard to believe we are more than halfway through this crazy year! Even though it has been the weirdest year I've probably ever experienced, I think it has gone by just as quickly as other years.
At the beginning of 2020, I set some goals for my life and family and planned to blog about the progress on these goals every quarter, to help me stay accountable. A little over halfway through the year, and here's where I'm at! 

done in progressnot started
Health Goals
  • Get a thermography scan   no progress on this. Haven't set up an appointment yet, but now that things are opened back up a bit more, I would like to do this very soon.
  • 150 workouts 82/150 After starting off the year a little rough with some illnesses, I have really been able to catch up and make great progress the last few months! If I continue at this rate, I will more than meet my goal by the end of the year.
Spiritual Goals
  • Memorize 52 bible verses 27/52. I am working on 27 & 28 right now and and it's week 30. So I am a few weeks behind. Technically I have more actual verses memorized than this, because some of what I've memorized has been 2-3 verses together, but I've counted those as one. The thing I'm struggling with most is the references.

  • Study 8-10 complete books of the bible 4 down (Jonah, 1 Peter, Hebrews, Song of Songs), 1 in progress (2 Peter)
Home Goals
  • Have carpets professionally cleaned This was so great! We had the entire house done and I'm so glad we did! I think from here on, we will try to do half the house each year. 
  • put the finishing touches on master bedroom DONE!! (Still need to get some pictures! I need to add the bed skirt, which I've had for months, but haven't put on.)
  • more security measures put in place We've added some things, would like a couple more additions still 
School/knowledge Goals
  • Make a school plan for next year for the boys This has been a funny one. We did have a plan in place for them to go to an alternative kindergarten program next year, but we are rethinking that now. I am 99% sure I know what we are going to do (homeschool) and have ordered their curriculum, but haven't officially withdrawn them yet. So I've made more than one plan for them already this year ;) 
  • Start teaching music at home Done! We used Prodigies for all the kids this spring. Our subscription is currently on hold for summer, and I'm not sure that we'll continue it in the fall. 
  • Find a social studies curriculum that fits our family better for next school year I ordered Notgrass History's Our Star Spangled Banner and I am excited to use it with the girls!

  • Read 30 books 18 read, 5 in progress currently. Reading has not been a problem for me this year!
Personal/Random Goals
  • Find & invest in a good pair of gym shoes Bought a pair of Nike Metcons and loving them!
  • Blog twice a month This has been a fail. I only blogged once in April-June. I think I could definitely still get 24 posts by the end of the year, I just didn't do well with the consistency of twice per month.
  • Get plans in place for 2021 family trip Technically this is done, because our plans are that we are not going now. Thanks, Covid. (I'm sure we'll still go on vacation(s) next year, just not the big one we had planned.)

  • Stay within budget for eating out category every month So far so good! 
  • Finalize our will Finally have made some progress on this!
Family Goals
  • Have girls be able to shower themselves This went so much faster/smoother than expected. They're 100% on their own now and I'm completely out of the picture. Next up, the boys! 
  • Girls clean their room with 0 help 0 progress on this lol. They can do some, but not all. We are having their new dressers delivered tomorrow (several months delayed also thanks to Covid) and this will help a TON. I expect we'll still be able to accomplish this by the end of the year, if not before.
  • Teach the boys all letter names/sounds They know some. We haven't worked on much this summer, but we'll hit it hard again in the fall!
  • Have girls be able to prepare a lunch for everyone Haven't even attempted this yet. Also, can I change a goal? I decided it would be way more beneficial for everyone for them to be able to fix their own breakfast. So come fall, they are going to be responsible for getting their own breakfast every morning. Everyone wakes up at different times, and this just makes more sense. Plus, they will be able to fix all but 1 or 2 things that they like to have, with ease and on their own. So I'm changing the goal to this, to have them doing breakfast on their own this year.
  • 12 date nights that aren't just going to dinner 5/12 (I think). Things were weird for awhile there, but we've made some progress this summer. We did do a weekend away which I'm counting as one of these, but was really should count for several since we did a lot of stuff while we were away!

Monday, July 20, 2020

First Family Camping Trip

At the end of May, we decided to take the kids camping! The girls have gone once before, about 5 years ago, and the boys have never been. So this was really the first time we've all gone together and the first very memorable trip for both girls. 
We have a large 10 person tent, that ends up not feeling very large when you add an air mattress and 4 sleeping bags! So we were "roughing" it (although I don't consider it that rough when there's an air mattress involved.) We thought we had an outlet in the back of our van, so we brought an extension cord to plug into and inflate the air mattress (which has the built in blower thing). It turns out it was our old van that had the outlet so I had a moment of panic thinking about sleeping just on the ground, but my husband carried the mattress over to a site that had electric and asked if he could blow it up, then carried it back over his head once it was hero. 
The campground we stayed at was about an hour from our house and is a Jellystone camp, which are all franchises so all a little different, but family friendly. There is a lake for fishing, swimming, boating and has this very cool inflatable jumping/obstacle course thing, a river and you can go tubing, a beach that our campsite was right next to, pool, and playgrounds. There are activities a few times a day, movie night Friday nights, hay ride Saturday nights, etc. Well I had called the week before to ask if things were all open back up post isolation and the lady on the phone told me yes. Turns out, nothing really was. So we couldn't do the lake, pool or obstacle course, playgrounds were roped off, and most of the activities weren't actually happening. It ended up being fine because it was not really water weather (high was around 70) and the kids had enough fun just exploring and playing on the sand at the "beach" (which had a large drop off right into a river, so we couldn't really wade out into the water or anything). 
We got there Friday late afternoon and set up our campsite while the kids played on the beach. I tried to do a lot of food prep ahead of time, and be strategic about what we brought to eat. After we got the camp set up, we made walking tacos on my husband's griddle over the fire. The kids played a ton around the campsite and beach that evening. We brought walkie talkies so our older kids could explore a little on their own if they wanted to, so my oldest took those and wandered a bit, and we generally just relaxed the evening away. 

We got in our tent around 9:30 once it was fully dark, but it was probably 11 before everyone around us got quite and we could all get to sleep. The kids did so great! I was worried about how they would sleep on the ground, when they would wake up with the sun coming in, etc. The lows got down into the 40s, so even though we brought warm pajamas, sleeping bags and extra blankets, I still wasn't sure if they'd all wake up freezing, but they did well! Everyone stayed pretty bundled up and I think I'd rather be cold then hot and sticky at night (due to the midwest humidity). 
Saturday the kids actually slept in later than I expected! I cracked all the eggs at home and diced up some veggies, so that was an easy breakfast we just had to cook up. We also surprised the kids with hammocks, so those went up first thing in the morning again (we had hung them later in the evening Friday) and were a huge hit! 

We spent most of the day Saturday at the beach and exploring the grounds. They set up laser tag at one point and tons of kids came from down where the RVs are for that. My oldest had fun doing that. We also attempted fishing, but had no luck. My middle daughter and youngest son spent just about the entire weekend at the beach....I felt like we would go hours without seeing them because they were just over there digging and burying and playing (we could see them from our campsite). Saturday lunch we made grilled cheese and dinner we let the kids roast hot dogs and brats over the fire. 

Even though we had planned on it being a lot more activities, it ended up being a really nice and relaxing weekend away. The kids did so well sleeping in the tent. I don't know that I would want to go for much longer than 2 days just because of the logistics of packing things for a family our size, but I think 2-3 nights is totally doable for us and everyone had a lot of fun! 
On Sunday, we were going to maybe try to do peddle boats, but we were all kind of ready to get going home by mid-morning. I had made muffins at home, so we had those for breakfast, and the kids were able to go to a craft time while my husband started breaking down the camp. Then, they played at the beach for awhile longer while we took down the tent and packed everything up.

 Camping is definitely a ton of work, but I think prepping so much in advance made it a lot easier for me to just unplug, relax and enjoy the weekend with my family! I'm hoping we can go again for one more weekend in the fall once it cools down a bit! 

Monday, June 8, 2020

End of the Year Homeschool Update {2019-2020}

We are done with our (bizzare!) school year!!! 
I wasn't entirely sure when we would finish up. We started after Labor Day, and then took a few weeks off throughout the year for holidays and family visits and such. For the last month or so (this was written toward the end of May), as we've been finishing up a subject, we're just done with it. So we were down to just doing math & language arts, and then for the last week and a half or so, just language arts which was only taking about a half hour - 45 minutes per day. As of Friday, May 22, we are finished with 1st and 2nd grade! 

This was definitely a unique and interesting year with being in quarantine, having enrichment classes cancelled, etc. I am grateful we were in the position we were in and didn't have to navigate figuring out how to homeschool on top of other huge life changing things. 
My 2 sons were attending half day preschool 4 days per week, but when they left for spring break March 12, they never went back since the schools closed. Having them home full time was a bit of an adjustment, and I did start working with them on preschool at home, but overall it went well and everyone did ok with it. 
My daughters usually go to 5 hours of enrichment classes each week, but those were also cancelled mid-March. We didn't have any more visits from our supervising teacher, all of the field trips and activities were cancelled and we were home, which is definitely different even though we were already homeschooling. 
Even though we had some curve balls thrown at us, the last quarter or so of school did go very well. The girls learned a ton this year. I love doing their end of the year assessments for language arts and seeing how they compare to the beginning of the year! They are much more fluent readers than they were 9 months ago. They have more knowledge, more skills and are generally just more mature. They're growing up so quickly! My oldest is halfway done with elementary grades! 

We ended up getting through the first book of the New City Catechism Curriculum, and a few questions into the second book. We did several review weeks throughout the year, to make sure my girls really had it down pat. I mentioned in my last post that we are considering using this for our family worship nights next year, so we may or may not use it for Bible in school next year. I do have my eye on something else for them that I'm excited about! 

For history, after we got bored with The Good & The Beautiful Year 1, I used some things that I already had printed out from TPT units last year, but honestly we just kind of fizzled out with social studies after about another month or so (around the time coronavirus hit). I just didn't push it. I'm still not sure what we are going to use for social studies next year. They're still young enough I just really don't want to push a bunch of historical facts that make them bored and they don't remember anyway, so I'm looking for something a little more engaging. 

Science, we did end up doing our human body unit, which I think was a great introduction to the human body. I think it will be great to go back to that topic in a few years and expand on it a lot more! We did not end up getting around to our bees unit, but I have some fun plans for that next year! Science was a lot of fun this year, and the girls really enjoyed it and I enjoyed teaching it more than years past. 

Language arts went very well this year! I don't have a whole lot else to say about that. I am SO looking forward to using the new edition of The Good & The Beautiful level 3 next year! I have been eyeing the beautiful new editions of level 1 and 2 and was bummed we couldn't use them. I am excited for a more streamlined curriculum now that they've changed a few things! This curriculum has worked very well for us the last 2 years. 

Well, math took a huge nosedive for us this year. I'm still not entirely sure why it went from working so well to....not. We were using CTC math this year (online, with me not really teaching, but helping where needed) and it was going so great until a few months ago. There were a lot of frustrations with each question that wasn't correct (because it instantly tells you whether it's right or wrong) and I think maybe one of my daughter's expectations of just going through the questions once and being done was off. If she didn't "pass" by getting enough questions right, she was really upset that she had to do more. I also think there wasn't enough review (well, none unless I did it), and maybe not enough math basics/facts taught. For example, in the multiplication unit, there was a lesson on counting by 3 and then after that one lesson, they I guess were just expected to know 3's. I personally think that takes awhile of reviewing and continuing to practice a  concept, not just seeing it once and knowing it. We have really struggled with math curriculum and just still haven't been able to find the perfect fit. I could see us using CTC again in a few years once more of those math basics and concepts are really solidly down and understood, but I am exploring another option for next year, which will be back to me teaching math, on paper, and more review and emphasis on facts each day (while still introducing new concepts). 

Handwriting & typing went well the rest of the year. Typing was really pretty sporadic throughout the year. Since they're still quite young, I just wanted them to start getting familiar with the keyboard, and they did. We'll keep using Typing Club next year. Handwriting was great this year! I will go ahead and order level 3 for them for next year (which will be mostly cursive!!!) but they'll finish up their level 2 book first! 

Per usual, this year went faster than any other has before. We had a really great year, despite all the changes and craziness, and we are still loving homeschooling! 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Family Worship Night

For a long time we had a strong desire to be more intentional with our kids about worshiping together as a family, praying as a family, and even doing a devotional or lesson. But for a long time, we just never took the time to figure out a way to really make it happen. 

For the last year or so, we've been doing a Worship Night just about every week and it has been so good for our family! Here is what we do and how we've made it work. 
We chose a night when we already had another activity going on because we always come right home after that, and since it's always a time we're guaranteed to be home, it was really easy to get into a rhythm of doing it at that time every week. 
First, we wanted to be praying more with our kids and we wanted them to have some stake in it. We all sat down and my husband and I had come up with categories and wrote each one on the top of a piece of paper (we aren't being fancy here). The categories we chose are: family, people, church, community, world. We had the kids come up with things they'd like to pray for in each of these categories and add them to the list. (We actually need to update these now, since it's been a while and some things are outdated!) 
Each time we have worship night, we have each person choose a sheet and choose something to pray for off of that sheet, or if they have something else they'd like to pray for, that's great too. We just encourage them to pray (and help the little ones). We all take a turn.

Sometimes we will do a devotional or lesson. Since COVID, we have been watching our church's kids lesson each week during this time. We have a few kids devotional type books that we'll sometimes read a story from one of our kids bibles. We are toying with the idea of doing our catechism lessons during this time next school year rather than during the school day. It's never anything too long (5-10 minutes) but generally sparks some good questions and conversations from our kids, which we always love, and it gives us a good idea of what's going on in their hearts sometimes, too. 

Generally, we will end with some worship, either songs they sing at church, songs we sing at church or just worship songs we like. 

That's it! It generally takes around 20 minutes or's pretty short and sweet. It's not too long that they get antsy or we lose their attention. It has been really great for our family and just a joy to worship together with our kids and show them that worshiping God together is a priority for our family. I'm so glad that we finally put it into practice. I know that it will evolve over time as our kids grow and schedules change but I am hopeful that this will always be something our family prioritizes and that our kids remember as part of their childhoods. 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

2020 Quarterly Goal Update 1

To help me stay accountable to the goals I set this year, I thought it would be helpful for me to do quarterly updates with how each of my goals is coming along. I am hoping this will keep some of those ongoing goals in perspective for me and for me to keep tabs on how much more progress I need to make on each of them! Here's where I'm at so far this year: 
done in progressnot started
Health Goals
  • Get a thermography scan   no progress on this. Haven't set up an appointment yet & probably won't be able to until covid has passed. 
  • 150 workouts 28/150 I've been sick several times this year already so progress on this has been slow, but I've been catching up the last few weeks!
Spiritual Goals
  • Memorize 52 bible verses 12/52. I am on week 13 now, should be on 15, so 2 weeks behind somehow. I had kept up on this really well until recently. 

  • Study 8-10 complete books of the bible 1 down (Jonah), 2 in progress (Hebrews & 1 Peter)
Home Goals
  • Have carpets professionally cleaned hoping to do this soon as part of spring cleaning (again, is probably on hold until the quarantine lifts)
  • put the finishing touches on master bedroom DONE!! (hopefully I can get some good pictures soon. It's currently doubling as my husband's home office)

  • more security measures put in place We've added something, would like a couple more additions still 
School/knowledge Goals
  • Make a school plan for next year for the boys in progess. I've done my part for this, waiting on other's for the plan to be set in place.  as of yesterday, this is set-they got into the program we were hoping for!!
  • Start teaching music at home Done! We started using Prodigies for all 4 kids.  

  • Find a social studies curriculum that fits our family better for next school year I'm exploring options now and have it narrowed down to a few!
  • Read 30 books 10 read, 2 in progress currently
Personal/Random Goals
  • Find & invest in a good pair of gym shoes Bought a pair of Nike Metcons and loving them!
  • Blog twice a month So far I've gotten at least 2 posts up each month
  • Get plans in place for 2021 family trip Still in the researching phase for this
  • Stay within budget for eating out category every month So far so good! 
  • Finalize our will Need to get on this asap!
Family Goals
  • Have girls be able to shower themselves A work in progess-they're doing really well! 
  • Girls clean their room with 0 help 0 progress on this lol
  • Teach the boys all letter names/sounds We're working on this now that they're home with me full time. I got an actual curriculum for them that we just started.
  • Have girls be able to prepare a lunch for everyone Haven't even attempted this yet
  • 12 date nights that aren't just going to dinner 2/12 so far...we'll catch up when it's warmer out & we can actually go out and do things.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Day In The Life During Coronavirus Isolation

I'm thinking there really isn't a better time for an updated day in the life post than during the Coronavirus isolation/quarantine that most of us are doing right now! On the one hand, our life isn't that much different since we already homeschool and are at home a lot during the day anyway, but on the other hand it really is. My husband is home working now, the boys don't have preschool in the afternoons, the girls have no activities or classes, and we don't get to just leave the house to see friends or go to a park or fun place. So it is different! I know this will be something I want to look back on one day when Covid-19 is (hopefully) but a distant memory for us all! 

Monday, March 23, 2020

9:00 I finally drag myself out of bed. Ever since time change my kids have been sleeping in, and during this whole quarantine I've found myself more tired and off schedule than usual. A few kids are already up, so I wake the last one up and get the morning going. We have breakfast (waffles & I make a green smoothie for myself and my husband) and the kids start on their morning checklists. These have been pretty casual and the kids have been wanting to stay in PJs pretty much every day, which I am really ok with. They still need to do things like feed the dog, brush their teeth, unload the dishwasher and make their beds. I get myself dressed in casual/comfy clothes and brush my teeth and then I'm pretty much ready for the day. I haven't worn makeup in over a week. 

10:00 We are finally getting started on school! We start with Bible and the kids are asked to think about what it would be like to be on death row (which also means I have to explain the death penalty first) and then they draw a picture of what they would ask for for their last meal. It leads to a good gospel conversation. I love the catechism curriculum! 

10:20ish We move on to science. We are starting a new unit on the human body and our first lesson is on muscles. We look in a bunch of our Usborne human body books and learn more about muscles, the girls start a human body flip book, they do a corresponding math activity to find out what the hardest working muscle is  and we watch a video about muscles. (Lest you think it's all nice and quiet around here, my kids run around for pretty much the whole rest of the day yelling about shaking their gluteus maximus lol!) 

11:40 Science took longer than usual today so we are getting a late start on language arts. Our language arts lesson for today is a little different. Last week we hit a lesson where we were supposed to have 3 books from this one author to read. Of course, the libraries are closed now and these are pretty old books and a lot are out of print (I hate when curriculums ask you to get books that you can't find!), but luckily I was able to find exactly 3 of his books on Amazon and we got them over the weekend. So we're coming back to that lesson. 2 of the books are more wordy so I am going to just do them as read alouds and continue on with other lessons, but for today, especially since we're running so behind, I just do that as our lesson. I give out spelling words for the week and the girls work on spelling and handwriting while I read A Lion to Guard Us.

Sometime after we get done with read aloud, the girls do their math lessons. They're learning about fractions right now. 

12:30 I've gotten our family set up with an account from Prodigies music lessons. I've been looking into this for a few months, was going to wait and see if the classes my girls go to is going to offer music next year before purchasing, and then I got an email that they, like everyone else, is doing a free trial right now, so I went ahead with it. My boys have actually been doing it more than the girls! I set them up with the first lesson on the tv today and they loved it. One of my girls joins them while the other finishes up math and I get lunch (mac and cheese) fixed. 

12:45ish We're all eating lunch. My husband comes out from his "office" (our bedroom) for awhile since he's got a break in meetings for awhile, so we catch up on our mornings while the kids eat. 

1:10 As the girls finish up eating, they work on finishing and addressing their penpal letters so we can walk down to the mailbox and get those and a few other things sent off. 

1:25 We all take a family walk around the neighborhood, stopping to drop off and pick up mail. It's pretty nice out (it snowed yesterday) so it feels good to stretch our bodies out and get some fresh air, and the kids love having daddy join us in the middle of the day! We go around our circle a few times. Some of the kids pick up bikes at some point in the adventure. 

2:00 My husband has another conference call to hop on, so we get home and get everybody situated with quiet time (much later than usual, but the time outside was necessary!!) Everybody is having some quiet reading time for a bit while I get things cleaned up in the kitchen and get ready for my own quiet time. 

2:25 My boys are doing "virtual preschool" on a facebook page their teachers sent. It's not their teachers, but a page their teachers follow and this teacher is doing large group lessons every day. We don't catch them live, so I've been having the boys do them during this time. They're at that hard age where they could really use a nap but if they nap they won't go to bed well at night, and they're used to going to preschool in the afternoon. So it's been a bit tricky figuring out how to keep them quiet ish and busy during this time. A half hour of preschool time helps. 

I sit down with my Bible and Hebrews study while the boys are doing their preschool and the girls are downstairs playing quietly. 

3:00 The boys head downstairs to join the girls and they all start tv time. I am folding a bunch of laundry at this point, since I didn't do any over the weekend. After laundry I get caught up on some house things while the kids are watching their show. 

4:15 Husband is done working and we head downstairs to workout. Leg day for both of us. Most of the kids join us and one is off doing her own thing (more and more these days....I can feel a new season on the horizon with my oldest)! 

5:00 We are done working out and I head upstairs for a shower, while my husband and son cook dinner. He is grilling a pork loin and they make rolls, mashed potatoes, and veggies to go with it. It was all so yummy! We ate around 6. 

6:30 We've started a new post dinner cleanup routine. I recently realized my kids could totally be helping with the after dinner cleanup so I asked them to help me one night. One dried the pots and pans after I washed them, 2 cleaned off the table and chairs, and one vacuumed around the kitchen and dining area and wiped down the counters. It all went so smoothly and we were done in no time! So I made a checklist and now after dinner they grab the list, each chooses a job and gets after it. When they're done with their task, they go back to the list and choose another one, and do this until all the jobs are done! We're usually done in 10 minutes and my kitchen is getting cleaned up way more than ever before (I was horrible about cleaning the table or under it after meals before)! 

6:45 The kids play for a bit and my husband starts building our new bar stools. I loved our old ones so much and am sad to get rid of them, but they were breaking and after several repairs that weren't lasting, it was time. 

7:00 My friend Megan and her son Dax stop by to do a game swap! Megan always has the best ideas! We've set out Ticket to Ride Jr. and my middle made a little activity page/card for Dax on the porch, and we talk to them through the window for awhile. This is all so weird that this is how we're communicating with people now. It's the highlight of the day and we're all glad for some non-family human interaction! 

7:35ish The girls and I sit down to read Harry Potter. We are almost finished with book 2. I've never read them either so it's been fun reading them all together! My husband is finishing up bar stools and then the boys get ready for bed. 

8:00 The girls do their bedtime checklists and head off to bed around 8:15 or 8:30. 
I intended to write this blog post then, but I was really tired so once Tony was done with the barstools (I think around 9 or 9:30), we put them up, and headed off to our room to get ready for bed and then  mindlessly watch tv until bed (around 11). 

I would say the biggest differences during this quarantine are no school for the boys, husband home and around here and there throughout the day, not going places (we go out almost every day in regular life to a park, playdate, store, etc.) and less of a structured routine (hello sleeping until 9 a.m.....) But this has been a pretty typical day for us so far during the quarantine! 

Thursday, March 19, 2020


Time is such a strange thing. 
I think as a parent, it is even stranger. You watch someone else's life flying by right before your eyes and there is no way to stop it. No way to slow it down. Some days it goes so fast you can hardly savor it at all. 
Somedays I feel time slipping through my fingers, and I can come out in almost a sense of panic. I have no control over time. It's going to pass whether I like it or not. My kids are going to grow whether I like it or not. I am getting older whether I like it or not. 
I have a terrible habit of thinking about how much longer I have of something, or comparing amounts of time, like next year when my oldest turns 9, her time in our home will be halfway over.

 I don't know why I do this to myself. I think partly because it makes me really believe it. It makes me stop, slow down, savor what I have right now before it passes. Because I know it's passing. Faster and faster every day. 
My husband has talked for years about getting a clock tattoo. I won't try to explain what all it symbolizes to him because I'll botch it, but the jist is that it's a reminder of time for us. 
In this weird pandemic situation we are currently in, so many of us are now finding ourselves with a lot of time on our hands. I am not someone who has a huge problem filling the time right now because 
1) we aren't that far off of our normal daily routine. Yes, activities are cancelled for the foreseeable future, my boys don't have preschool for at least 4 weeks and my girls don't have their homeschool classes for at least that long, and we don't get to venture out places or do things with friends, but the main chunk of our day is the same. We're at home together working on school work, house work, etc. That hasn't changed (except that my husband is home, but working, so we still aren't seeing a ton of him). 

and 2) I'm an introvert. I am a homebody. I love being around people, I love seeing my friends, I love taking my kids to their activities and going to church and bible study and connection group each week, but I also really love being home. I love curling up with a good book, binging a Netflix series, staying in my pjs all day, doing house projects, playing board games, having a movie night with the isn't hard for me to find things to do at home. 
But the thought of possibly being here with no person to person contact outside of my 5 family members for a month or more is a lot, even for me. An entire month+ at home...that's a lot of time to fill. 
Here's how I see it. I know I am not alone with the panic-y feeling of time passing so fast and wanting to slow it down. I know so many others who feel the same way (parents especially, I think). All of a sudden, we have this time. It's like a gift that's been handed to us suddenly, out of nowhere. A gift of time, of savoring the moments we know will pass too quickly with our children, of having no outside obligations or activities to distract us from the important work of loving our families and building lasting memories with them.

 Time to spend pouring over the Word of God, studying the Bible, praying to God & worshiping Him. Time that we may otherwise spend prioritizing the things of this world, we can now devote to things eternal. What a gift. Time to build relationships. No, we may not be able to have face to face interaction with people, but with technology, we're only a FaceTime away from friends, family members, and loved ones. We now have time to pick up the phone and really have a conversation, building those relationships, loving on those people, where before we maybe couldn't find the time to make that phone call with all that we had going on. Maybe we even have the time to write a letter and mail it! What a gift to have time to build relationships and show the people that we love the most, how much we care. 

For as much as time has burdened me over the last decade or so, it finally feels like a gift. The world is standing still right now and we have the option to complain about it and dwell on how long it feels, or to use it to our advantage, building into things we otherwise neglect. Which are you going to choose? 

It is my hope & prayer that in a few more weeks when we all feel like we're losing our minds (myself included), we can remember this. And that when this is all over, a year, 5, or 10 years from now, we can look back on this crazy time in history with some fondness over the gift of time we received and the benefits and blessings that came from that time. 

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Mid Year Homeschool Update {2019-2020}

We are well over halfway through our homeschool year (which is insanely hard to believe!) and I wanted to give a little update on how this year has been going.
My oldest is in 2nd and my middle is in 1st doing 2nd grade work, so essentially they're both doing 2nd grade. I feel like this has been our smoothest year yet! I remember when I was teaching and in college doing things in the classrooms, feeling like 2nd grade was such a great year because you're past the hump of learning to read and write but they're still small and sweet, and I definitely feel like that's been true this year! There's so much more we've been able to do since they have reading and writing down pat, and it's been a lot of fun. 

We start our school days with Bible, and we are using New City Catechism Curriculum this year. The catechism has been really great. I have loved that we're opening the Bible together, learning from it, discussing it and memorizing the catechism questions and answers. It has brought up SO many good discussions and questions from my girls which has been just awesome! My only complaint is that with the curriculum, a lot of the activities are hard to modify from a classroom setting to 2 kids (they'll have team activities, and things like that, that you just can't do with 2 kids). But the rest of it has been really good and I would highly recommend it, just knowing that at home, you'll have to modify or skip some things. 

Next up has been history and science. We've been on a rotation doing a unit of history for several weeks, then a unit of science, then back to history, so on and so forth. 
We have been using The Good & The Beautiful History year 1, and I felt like unit 1 was decent, but we were bored out of our minds during unit 2. It was just way over my girls' heads and even I was bored with it. I had hoped that the audio recordings, read aloud and book of stories would liven it up some, but I found that I was just having to over explain everything and it was taking a long time and no real information was being learned or retained. I do think it's a good program and laid out well, and I love that it's family style so all grades can do it together, but I don't think I would order it again until the kids are quite a bit older. So now we are using some units I bought and prepped last year from Teachers Pay Teachers, that we didn't finish, and are currently on Black History again. We'll finish up the year later with maps and landforms, and I think that'll be sufficient for 2nd grade! 
For science this year, we've done all units that I got on TPT and we have had SO much fun with our science units! We've done a unit on pumpkins and winter, and both were a lot of fun and the girls learned a ton. This has worked out so well, that I've already bought some units for next school year and am planning out units! We have 2 more science units this year coming up-human body and bees! Overall, science has been a favorite this year, which makes me happy because I never loved science growing up, so I'm really pleased that it's coming alive for them! 

After history/science, we move onto language arts. We are using The Good & The Beautiful language arts level 2 this year for both girls. We really enjoyed it last year and we are again this year. I was really hoping that their new edition would come out before the year started, but it just came out in January. It looks so beautiful and so much more concise, that I wish we could have used it, but what we've got has been working out well! The girls are learning a ton and their reading has progressed so well again this year. I like that level 2 has added geography in, so they are getting some work in with maps and continents, and other geography things, which has been great. I had intended to do writing on Fridays using another writing book I bought, but we haven't done much of it. My oldest is getting writing this year at her homeschool classes, and I think that the writing instruction has picked up a lot in this level of TGATB, so I'm happy with that and they've both come a long way with their writing this year. Both of the girls really enjoy language arts this year, which makes me happy. We pushed through some frustrating weeks with my oldest the last couple years, and this year it's all coming a lot easier and really clicking, which is the goal! I did do away with the TGATB method for spelling. They have your kids write out sentences each week for each of their spelling words, and after a year and a half of doing it that way and my kids not doing great with spelling (taking several weeks to pass some words), I decided to try something else. Now each day they just have some kind of spelling activity, such as write the rainbow-using one line of the rainbow and writing the word in each color on that line, or magic spelling where they write their words in white crayon, then color over it with marker to make it show up. I think that when they were doing the sentences, they were just trying to come up with a sentence, and not paying attention to the actual spelling word, and that's why they weren't remembering it, and this way they're really retaining the spelling words, so that's been a good change. My middle has gone through all the level 2 spelling words twice, so we just moved onto the level 3 words for her, which shows me that changing it up made a huge difference! One of my favorite benefits of homeschool-if it's not working, you can change it! 

Math usually comes last and it's been going so well this year. We are using CTC math, which is online, so I'm not really teaching math this year (*gasp*!) Of course I am there and step in often to help, but the actual lessons are taught online, they do the questions on their own and if they don't pass (85% is what I have it set to), then we look at where they're getting hung up together. My only complaint is there isn't a lot of review in this. I haven't spent a ton of time on the site figuring everything out, so maybe we could be coming back to things someway, but I just haven't seen it. So some of the trickier concepts, I'm doing problems on the board for them a couple times a week to make sure they retain it. The other thing is that I want to make sure they know how to do it on paper as well as on the website. For some things, like carrying in addition, they have a little box that pops up and prompts them to carry the number, so I want to make sure they know what to do with it without that box there. Overall, I don't have complaints about CTC. The lessons are short and to the point, and math usually takes less than 15 minutes, which is incredible. And it's not for lack of instruction-they're both on grade 2 and learning multiplication right now, with division coming up in the next unit. The short and concise lessons have really eliminated a lot of math frustration for all of us this year, and I feel like they're getting the concepts down a lot better than when it was over explained in an hour long less, so CTC has been a huge blessing and success this year and we'll definitely keep using it! 

My girls have done typing and handwriting as well this year. Typing we are sporadic about...I'm kind of just letting them do it when they want to. They're definitely getting the hang of it, but I know it'll take a few years to really solidify. I'm glad they're getting the foundation and figuring out how the keyboard works. Handwriting is going well this year, and we are using level 2 of The Good & The Beautiful handwriting. They love that there is an activity or picture to do each day to go with the handwriting practice...that makes it a little bit more exciting! I can't believe they'll be learning cursive already next year!

Overall, this year has been really great and I can't believe we're already almost in our 4th quarter! Each year homeschooling just seems to go faster and faster. I'm grateful to be able to teach my girls and that this year has been a huge year of growth for them emotionally, spiritually and academically. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Why We Value Travel

I've been planning some of our trips for this year, and it has had me thinking lately about how valuable travel is. Our family didn't always used to place as heavy an emphasis on travel as we do now, and I really like talking about traveling, so I thought this would be a good topic! I know a lot of people don't see travel as a very valuable thing-it can be expensive, takes time off work, hard to plan, etc. but here are some reasons we see it as one of the most valuable things we can do with our children. 

Time with our kids
Each week, between activities, school, work, house work, etc. we might spend only 4  hours with our kids (I generally spend a lot more because I'm home with them, but there are days my husband doesn't see the kids at all, or only for a couple hours), but on vacation we spend all waking hours together. And those are hours that aren't usually interrupted by cooking, cleaning, errands, and the like. Those are truly quality hours with them, building memories and having experiences together. A week of quality time bonds us so much and strengthens our relationships with each other. That time together is priceless to us. How much more we have to build into our kids during those weeks! 

Exposure to new/different things
Traveling allows us to give our kids exposure to things and people that they might not get to have in our little everyday life bubble in Midwest America. Sure, we try our best on a day to day basis, but there are some things you can't provide where you are. It's good for our kids to see other ways of life. There are tremendous differences culturally even from the midwest to the deep south, or from the west coast to the east. Those are good things for them to experience. It's good for them to see that our way of life isn't the "right" or only way. It's good for them to try new foods, hear different dialects and languages we may not hear regularly, and even see different routines and ways of living. I'm always fascinated by it and I hope they grow up to be as well. I hope it makes them more well rounded, empathetic, curious, loving people. 

New experiences
Traveling often gives us the opportunity to give our kids new experiences. There's only so much we can do at home. Again, we certainly try, but we just don't have some things! Travel is a great way to try new things. To see new regions. To have new experiences. My hope is that these experiences together will be some of their strongest and best memories. Our times trying new things, going to new places, and maybe even stepping out of our comfort zones to do something we've never done before, are certainly also going to provide bonding between the members of our family. I hope that as they grow they will value experiences over things and that they will see the value in spending that time and making those memories rather than a new toy or item they'll be sick of in a month. 

A well deserved break
This goes along with my first point a little bit, but I believe travel is a much needed and well deserved break for all of us! It's so good for kids to be kids. To leave behind the school work, the friend drama (my kids aren't there yet, but I know as they age this could come into play), and whatever other stressors they might be experiencing, and just be free to enjoy themselves. To relax, to recharge, and to just enjoy their time. As adults, I think most of us can agree that we need that from time to time. Why wouldn't kids need it as well? I love seeing my kids without a care in the world, running free on the beach, climbing trees, exploring at a museum, watching a performance. Seeing that joy on their faces is one of the best parts of travel for me. 

There are certainly other things we could spend the money on that we put into trips . There are certainly other ways we could spend my husbands vacation days. But I don't think we'll regret for a second spending our money and time this way. Building into our kids, our bonds, and creating memories together will be absolutely worth every penny and hour of PTO spent! After thinking through these reasons, and looking back at some old vacations for pictures, I am absolutely ready and excited for our next family trip! It's going to be a really good one, and we're all counting down the weeks!!! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Happy List

I asked  my girls today to tell me one good thing. And it made me think about some good things in my own life. I love making happy lists, and it's probably something I should do more often. Sometimes taking a minute to think about the simplest little think can bring a lot of happiness in any given moment! So here are some things that are making me smile today.

Vacation planning

Our winter science unit {find it here}

Community/Solid friendships

Hot tea

Trader Joe's

Cousin visits

Date night 

Organizing an area that's needed it for a long time

The Reese's PB cup cookie I'm eating right now 

My sons' birthday coming up

Game nights 

Starting a new bible study

Warm soup & homemade bread 

What are some things that are making you happy this week? 

Monday, January 6, 2020

Goals & Plans for 2020

Years ago, it became evident to me that setting goals works a lot better for me than setting resolutions. Goals feel more like I'm working toward something, rather than avoiding something. I also usually feel like goals are more measurable, so I can actually see how it is coming along, which I like. I also like to set goals or plans each month, when I have a better idea of what our schedule, time, and events are like, but I wanted to share a few of the goals and plans we have for this year already!

Goals for 2020:
Health Goals
  • Get a thermography scan. This is something that has been on my "want to do" list for several years now and this is the year I just need to make it happen! 
  • 150 workouts. Last year was the first year in my life I have been able to stick to regular workouts. I started working out regularly at the end of February, found something I enjoy, and have stuck with it since. I completed 129 workouts last year, so I'm going to up that this year and shoot for at least 150! That gives me room for sickness, travel, etc. while still aiming a little higher than last year.
Spiritual Goals
  • Memorize 52 bible verses. This one is going to be so hard for me. This is a spiritual discipline I am not good at and have never prioritized. Our church put out a bible reading plan and it has a verse to go with it each week. I am not doing the plan, but my husband & I are both memorizing the verses. I think I'll be able to memorize them ok, it will just be remembering them once I start adding more and more. I have plans to put the current and past week posted on our bathroom mirror, and I've started making a graphic for my lock screen, so each time I pick up my phone, I'm seeing that week's verse. We'll see how it goes! I'm nervous about this goal. 

  • Study 8-10 complete books of the bible. This may not sound like a lot, but going through a whole book of the bible thoroughly can take me up to a couple of months. I think 8-10 books will be manageable! 
Home Goals
  • Have our carpets professionally cleaned. Another thing we've been talking about for awhile, but haven't actually done. We've been in our house 2 years and we're the first owners, so we are really wanting to keep up on it now so we don't pay the price later. 
  • Put the finishing touches on our master bedroom. We are sooo close! And we are notorious for getting something 90% done and then stopping. I don't want that to happen here!
  • Get a few more security measures put in place.
School/Knowledge Goals
  • Make a school plan for next school year for the boys. 
  • Start teaching music at home. (The girls have always gotten it at the program they go to, and this year it was only first semester, so they have nothing going currently in the way of music.)
  • Find a social studies curriculum that fits our family a little better for next school year.
  • Read 30 books. I would still really love to do a 50 book year, but that's lofty and I'm trying to be realistic. My highest year (2016) was 28 books, and I think I can do a little better! 
Personal/Random Goals
  • Find and invest in a good pair of gym shoes. In the little bit of time I've put into finding something I can only find running shoes or "fashion" athletic shoes, which is what I currently have and they don't grip the gym floor well (I'm looking at you, Nike Flex...)
  • Blog twice a month. A few years ago I had a weekly blogging goal and I did really well, and I like looking back on that year and seeing the consistency. Last year, I pretty much only did life recaps, which is also fun to look back on, but they get boring to write and I'm sure to read. Twice monthly (at minimum) feels manageable and will hopefully still help with consistency.
  • Get plans set in stone for a big family trip we are hoping for in 2021! 
  • Stay within budget for our eating out category every single month. This used to be the category we would go over in every month, and we really reigned it in last year, but still went over budget several months. Honestly, the majority of the time we eat out (besides date nights) is sheer laziness on my part, so I want to combat that by having easy meals in the freezer, or just planning ahead better so we can stay within our budget (which still allows for plenty of chick fil a, don't worry! ) every month this year. 
  • Finalize our will 
Family Goals
I have a few goals for other people in my family, which sounds weird, but most of them take training or intentionality on my part, so this is a way I can make sure those things are happening. 

  • Have the girls be able to completely shower themselves. This may be a skill they should already have, but they have so much, so much hair, that washing it is really a process they haven't been able to do on their own. My middle's hair is down to her waist, THICK and wavy, so it's going to take some work for her to be able to do it on her own. 
  • The girls cleaning their room with 0 help. I dream of the day when I can ask them to clean their room and don't have to sit with them to say 'put that away, put that there, that goes over there'. This is something they should be able to do on their own by the end of the year. 
  • Teach my boys all the letter names and sounds. They're well on their way already, but I want to be intentional about working hard at this with them! 
  • Have my girls (each individually) be able to prepare a lunch for all 5 of us with no-minimal help.
  • 12 date nights that aren't just going out to dinner! I love going out to dinner sans kids, but sometimes it feels like that's all we do when we have a night without them (every other week). I think if we could aim for once a month doing something different, I would love that! This will be easier in the warmer months when we can hike, bike, boat, etc. 
Trips for 2020:
We have a few trips we are *hoping* to make this year (nothing has been booked for any of this yet, so it could certainly change). 
  • Nebraska to celebrate some birthdays with the cousins this month! (This one is set in stone).
  • Probably another Nebraska trip at some point during the year. 
  • Southeastern (ish) U.S. trip. This one will cover 5 states, so it'll be quite a bit of driving and will be a bit more lengthy trip, but we have some really fun plans for it! We are hoping to do this in the late spring. 
  • I have a girls trip with a friend in the making for spring! Not sure where we're going yet, or if it will for sure work out, but I'm hoping it does! 
  • Camping! We've been putting this off for years and I actually want to go this year, instead of just keep almost going. I'm thinking maybe a one nighter in the late spring, and then if all goes well, a full weekend in early fall. 
  • I really want to go to The Gospel Coalition women's conference in Indianapolis. The speaker line up looks incredible and I've always wanted to go! 
  • Park City, Utah. This is one I've been dreaming about for a couple years now and it just hasn't worked out yet. It's pretty tentative again for this year, depending on budget and scheduling. I'd love to do this one in the summer. 
Things can always change quickly with trip plans, so I am not sure if all of these will happen, but it would be fun if they did! I love traveling so much! 

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Reading List for 2020

It has been awhile since I have talked about books at all! Like, almost 2 years. It's time! I've still been reading regularly, I just haven't blogged about it at all. I think that in 2019 I read more non-fiction than average, but I would still like to up that a little. Non-fiction just take me forever to get through because they give me so much to think about and I can only read a little at a time since I'm processing. I read 19 books in 2019, which is a little lower than I would have liked, but I still feel pretty good about it.
Here are some books that are on my current non-fiction reading list. I may not get to them all this year, because, like I said, I'm slow at non-fiction, but these are all books that I already own and haven't gotten to, or that have been on my list for awhile! (Books with a * are books I own and will probably prioritize for that reason).

So, I guess I certainly have some work to do this year! A lot to dig into, and I'm sure I'll be adding even more to my list as the year goes on. I have several people's book lists saved that I'm wanting to look over and get some recommendations from. If you have any good non-fiction books you'd recommend, send them my way! I have a whole separate list of fiction books I want to read, and I can generally read a lot more of those throughout the year! 
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