Friday, June 23, 2017

Schooling Year-Round While Other Kids Have Summer Break

I admit it. I am one of THOSE moms.  Hi, my name is Michele and yes, we school through the summer months!

Before you call the school police on us, let me explain.

During the official school year, August through May, we typically follow a Sabbath School Schedule as much as we can, doing school 6 weeks and then taking one week off.  We have a college student who attends a school in a different state so we have to be flexible because of her schedule sometimes, but we stay as close to the six weeks on, one week off as we can. 

My kids thrive on schedules and consistency and so do I.  It's just how we roll around here.  For that reason, when summer hits, I am just not ready to throw school out the door because-
  1. We need some consistency
  2. I do not want our learning to end
  3. There are so many programs out there to explore
  4. It cuts down on the "I'm bored" complaints 
But HOW do you do it when other kids have a summer break and yours do not?


START EARLY- In the day that is.  For us, getting school done early and out of the way is an incentive to get to do other special activities.  My boys know when they are done with their assignments they are free to play.

BE CHOOSY- We do not do every subject in the summer.  We continue math because that is a skill that is easily lost with a two or three month break.  We also use the summer months to catch up on anything we may have fallen behind in, as well as adding any electives the kids want to try.

BE FLEXIBLE- There are days when things come up and that's ok.  Sometimes things trump school and we just move on the following dayDon't become wrapped around the axle when unexpected things happen.  There are lessons to be learned even in those things.

BE CONSISTENT- That being said, we also try hard to be as consistent as possible.  If the kids think they have a bargaining chip every day then school can become a battle.  Just letting them know this is part of our daily routine keeps the complaints to a minimum.

DON'T FORGET TO READ- Whether it is as a family or as individuals, read, read, read!  Summer is a great time to visit the library or pull favorites off the shelf and encourage reading.  In the heat of the day or after a busy morning are great times to incorporate reading into your quiet time.  We keep a stack of books in a prominent place in our living room for our kids to choose from for summer reading.  For older kids, they have wish lists they mark off as they read.

INCLUDE OTHERS-  Want to do art? Invite the neighborhood kids and teach them all!  Never been to a local museum? Take a field trip and include another family or two!  This summer we even have Biology dissections scheduled with 5 or 6 other families.  Let's face it, some things are just more fun with friends!

MAKE IT FUN- Above all, make summer a fun time for learning.  Teach a new skill or explore a new subject.  Let your child choose and let their imaginations run wild.  You may discover a new talent or favorite subject along the way.  Summer unit studies are a great way to immerse your kids in a subject that fascinates them.  They will learn what they love!

So yes, I am THAT mom, but my kids don't seem to mind too much.  It is what we do, and we have fun doing it!  How about you- are you ready to learn this summer?


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Learning American History With a Horse

Being a part of the Homeschool Review Crew provides so many neat opportunities for our family, but one of the most exciting for the boys is when books hit our steps.  It's pretty hard for us to say no to book reviews, so when we heard we were going to get the full set of Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh, we may have just done a happy dance.  Yeah, we did a happy dance! So excited about the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series!

The Adventures of Rush Revere is actually a five book series written by Rush Limbaugh.  If you did not already know, Rush Limbaugh is a wonderful story teller.  I for one was not aware of that and so I admit, I was a bit doubtful of the story credibility.  Boy, was I put in my place!

Not only are these books well written and entertaining, but are loaded with a wealth of historical information about American History.  Written at a middle school level but appropriate for older and younger kids, Rush takes you on adventure after adventure with the help of the main character, teacher Rush Revere, and trusty magical horse Liberty.  With a simple chant, Liberty and his friends can time travel to different events in American History and witness first hand what took place while interacting with the people as well. 

Book 1- Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims- In the first book of the Adventures of Rush Revere, the prologue begins the adventure with school teacher Rush Revere and his horse, Liberty, on the Mayflower.  After capturing the attention of the reader, additional characters, Tommy, Freedom, and Elizabeth are introduced when their new substitute teacher, Rush Revere, comes to their class. After introducing the students to his talking horse who can help them time travel by jumping through portals, the adventures begin.  They get to meet Squanto and William Bradford, as well as watch the First Thanksgiving.

Book 2- Rush Revere and the First Patriots- Again, the prologue sets you in the appropriate time in history, this time with the first patriots and the beginning of the American Revolution.  The excitement builds as you meet Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry and see if Elizabeth will change history.

Book 3- Rush Revere and the American Revolution- This book is about, you guessed it, the American Revolution and is MY favorite of all the books.  This book focuses on the character Cam who has been acting differently since his father was recently deployed.  Since we are a military family whose dad has been deployed several times, this one just tugs at my heart strings as you read about Cam and his struggles.  I also love how the book shows an adult outside of Cam's family reaching out to care about him.  It takes a village sometimes!

Book 4- Rush Revere and the Star-Spangled Banner- This was the first book that Colby read.  He says it is about the time Rush Revere took his students on a train to Washington, DC.  They visited famous places like the White House, Washington Monument, and the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials.  They also time jumped to the time of the War of 1812 to learn about when Francis Scott Key wrote the song The Star-Spangled Banner.

Book 5- Rush Revere and the Presidency- This was Colby's favorite book in the series and actually the one he read second! He has a strange obsession with presidents so the name captured his curiosity immediately.  He said this book talks about the first three presidents "a lot!"  Because two modern day characters, Cam and Elizabeth, are running a school campaign for student body president, Rush Revere and Liberty take them back in time to learn how to prepare and run a race better.

Our thoughts- Well, if you couldn't already have guessed, we loved these books!  I admit to being pleasantly surprised at how well they are written and the amount of historical content in them.  Being history buffs around here, we are pretty picky when it comes to historical fiction and these books meet the mark for sure.  

Colby, age 10, was easily able to read them on his own, taking about 4-5 days to complete one.  He loved the humor of the horse, Liberty, and he said the time travel was his favorite. When I caught him laughing out loud several times, he said that it made him laugh when Liberty made himself invisible and confused people. 

Rush Limbaugh and his team also blessed the leadership of Crew with the audio dramas as well.   Since my youngest is an audio drama nut this has been a HUGE blessing to us.  Yes, he has read the books, but he has listened to the CDs just about every night since they arrived.  It has gotten so bad that he can now quote parts of his favorites.  My husband and two of the older teens listened to one of the CD sets on a recent road trip, but they did say that the talking horse was a little much for them.  Party poopers!

A cool addition is that on the website you will find activities, games,  and even quizzes that correspond to the books.  You can submit things to the site and even win prizes.  While I do not let my 4th grader on random websites without supervision, this is one he has free access to.

If American History and adventure are your thing, or you just want to get your kiddos reading quality historical fiction, the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series is a great place to start!

Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series {Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, June 19, 2017

34 Weeks of Clean Rinse and Repeat: Week 24- The Porch and Deck

Now that the weather has finally warmed up around here (yes, I know, it is HOT), we were finally able to get outside without being cold and spruce up the front and back porches. (Don't worry, we will head back inside to finish up some places there soon!) During our long winters, a lot of dirt and grime collects, plastic things get brittle and break, and the place just screams for a little TLC.

So Porches and decks are up!  Ready, set, go!
  • Clear it all off.
  • Wash it all off.  This includes-
          - furniture
           -windows and doors
           -cracks and crevices
  • Throw anything broken or ratty out!
  • Return things to where they REALLY belong. (Like a sled that had been on the back patio all winter, just saying!)
  • Add a touch of beauty!  You don't have to invest a lot, just a little something that makes you smile every time you walk by.  This could include a plant, some pretty flowers, or just a mat at the door that says welcome!

And how our back deck looked before- 

And after!

Ignore the wrinkle in the rug!  The wind keeps doing that!

Someday I want amazing outdoor furniture and such but for now, I am learning to be content with what we have.  I did add a colorful rug last year and it held up well.  This past year I replaced a few plastic chairs since our wind had wreaked havoc on them.  This year we also brought the sitting area up to the deck and took the grill and table to the covered patio below.  It has been a nice change and we are eating out more due to the shade.  Our porch gets great sun all day, but that also means it tends to roast you alive at times.

A quick note of encouragement... not one of us is in the same situation, has the same tastes, or is even in the same place in our lives.  Some of us live in apartments, rentals, or even with family. Some of us have palatial homes while others are bursting at the seams.  Regardless of our circumstances, we have a choice to either be content or not.  From one who moves every two years or so, may I encourage you to be content with where God has you?  He has great plans for you and your family.  Look for the blessings and be thankful - something I tell myself daily!

A BIG shout out to Redeemed and 621 Gifts for donating prizes for our drawing at the end of our series.  Just 10 weeks to go, my friends!  Make them count!


Friday, June 16, 2017

Double Digits

Double digits!  10 years old!  Can you believe it?


Well, it doesn't matter if you can, I CAN'T!  It doesn't even seem possible.

While we weren't at this boy's birth, he has been in our heart for a very long time.

He makes me laugh, wears me our, challenges me, is the best snuggler, is smart as a whip, and did I mention, wears me out!?

I told you he makes me laugh- 

He beats me at almost every game we play,

Loves to swim,

He loves animals,

Loves to read and is an amazing learner,

Loves baseball,

Oh, how we love him! 

Happy Birthday, Colby Jose!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Great Britain Vacation

Yes, my two girls went.  No, I did not!
But I thought you might enjoy seeing some pictures anyway! ;)

Thanks to the generosity of their grandparents my girls just returned from a 10 day tour of England and Scotland.  They had a blast and we have had so much fun living vicariously through them.  The stories have been entertaining and they made enough memories to last a lifetime.

Edinburgh Castle in Scotland

Westminster Abbey, no pictures allowed inside, but it was as stunning as the outside!

the girls, their grandparents, and the tour group!

You can also see all of Riley's photos here!

They are busy dreaming of their next trip- where would you go?


Monday, June 12, 2017

34 weeks of Clean Rinse and Repeat: Week 23- The Linen Closet

Let's just say that with all the work we have been doing around this house, I am glad that some assignments are easier than others.  We have a few pretty intense ones coming up, so enjoy this week, friends! ;)
The linen closet

For us it is pretty benign.  Since we only have a few sets of sheets per bed and only a few sets of towels per person, we do not have a stuffed linen closet- just a cluttered one.   For some reason we still tend to toss things in and shut the door- FAST.  I am working on that with the kids!

 Here we go-

  • Pull it all out.  
  • Sort and purge!  Did I mention that you do not need 20 sets of sheets and towels unless you have a really large family?  Usually two per person with a few for guests are sufficient.  And sheets, well, you can only use one set at a time.  Just saying.  Throw out old, stained, and worn sheets and towels!  Maybe even treat yourself to a new set.
  • Wipe off shelves and doors to linen closet.
  • Put everything left back neatly.
The little vacuum stays there for quick pick ups for the kids!

Done!  See, I told you that was easy!

Trash pile

Three things to note
  1. You do not always have to use a space for its intended purposes.  Sometimes it pays to get  creative.  I have seen people keep their towels and sheets in their bathroom cabinets and use their linen closets for craft storage, office storage and yes, we even used ours in the last house for a Lego closet!  Think outside the box and make your space work for you!
  2. We keep all of our stockpile toiletries in the tub on the floor.  It is easy for the kids to access if they need new soap, shampoo etc.
  3. The polka dotted tote on the top shelf you see is for my mom.  She visits often and we learned that it was much easier to just have a set of toiletries here.  That way, she does not have to bring extra stuff on the plane nor worry about forgetting things.  I also think you could do the same thing for any guests you have and store extra toothbrushes, soaps and such.
  4. We also keep all of our medicine and first aid things here in the plastic drawers.  Each drawer is labeled for quick reference.  If you have young kiddos, of course, you need to put those things out of reach! 

What about you, do you have a linen closet holding more than linens?  And how did you do on last week's assignment, the laundry/mudroom?  Can't wait to hear about your progress!

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Remember, one week at a time, but get moving!


Friday, June 9, 2017

Year In Review

Yes, as of this week we are officially done with our school year!  Our official year, that is!  Colby completed 4th grade and Salem completed his freshman year in high school.  For the record, Riley finished her first year at college and will return as a junior.  Our oldest graduated early several years ago and has a thriving T-Shirt business at Ashton's Attic!

So how did the school year go?

Pretty well.  We accomplished all we set out to do with a few extras under our belt.

Math. Check
Science. Check
Literature and writing.  Check
Spanish. Check
Geography. Check
Math. Check
Music Appreciation. Check

Salem also completed a drivers education course and has begun two classes online that will count as electives for him. One is called National Securities Careers, an interesting look at national security history and the entities that help with that security.  It is a great career exploration class as well.  The second course is from our Homeschool Review Crew called Doctor Aviation.  Be looking for a review in a few weeks, but in the meantime, let me just say- we love this course!!  If your child is interested in anything flying or related, they will get a kick out of this video-based program taught by a retired Air Force officer.

People often ask what our days look like.  Although each day may vary, we do start school around 9 and school until lunch. We take a lunch break from 12-1, and then resume school until everything is done.  Most days that is around 3, though it has been known to go later, depending on the work load for that day.

And our summer?  Well, we do school year round.  That usually means we have an hour or two of school most days in the summer with usually with a two week break before we begin new grades in late August.  I have found that math is better retained when we do not walk completely away from it in the summer, and we really enjoy our reading and science time together so those subjects usually continue at some level.  We also tend to concentrate on electives like the ones Salem is taking and things like art for Colby for fun.  Not a chance of summer boredom around here!

 As for the rest of the day, we spend time outside when we can and try to find Activities for Days it is TOO Hot. The kids catch up on rest, a few are involved in summer sports or have a job, and we soak up the few months we have back together as a family of six.

Time is fleeting, enjoy it while you can!


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Activities for Days That Are Too HOT!

As a young child I am not sure I ever thought it was TOO HOT to play outside, but since I have gotten older, well, let's say things have changed a bit.  Now there are days that I am pretty sure I am going to melt.  Picture the witch from Wizard of Oz- yep, that's me!

Even my kids have days like that as well.  The sun is shining, the temperatures are rising, and no one wants to do anything.

So what's a mom to do?

Here are some ideas to keep your kids busy and you sane in those HOT summer months.

WATER PLAY-  They have waited all year to play in the water so let them.  There are so many ideas you can choose from-

  • Running through the sprinkler
  • Water guns and team competitions
  • Water slides (you can even make your own with plastic tarps!)
  • Neighborhood water balloon fights
  • Carnival games with water buckets and balls- let your imagination go wild!
End their time with homemade popsicles and you will be the hero for the day!

MOVIE TIME- We limit our kids' screen time during formal school time, so summer is a time to loosen up the rules a bit.  Invite the kids' friends over and have a movie theater experience!  Set up a concession stand for kids to "buy" treats or popcorn, collect the "tickets," and turn off the lights for the show.  The heat of the day is the perfect time to relax in an air conditioned room for some quiet time.

VISIT THE LIBRARY- I know this may sound old hat to some, but the library is really a great place.  Gone are the days of mean, old librarians whose favorite word is "shhhhhhhh!"  Now there are reading programs, crafts days, computers, guest speakers, games, and even classes to take.  Libraries have always been a favorite of mine, but they seem to come even more alive in the summer.  Try it! You may even be able to locate a quiet air-conditioned corner just for yourself!

CRAFT DAYS- I admit it- during the school year, arts and crafts usually find their way to the bottom of our to-do list.  Some days we are lucky to just get the basics done.  Hot summer days are the perfect time to grab the craft supplies and a couple of kids and enjoy some craft time.  Pick a theme and explore the different ways you can create the same picture or maybe make puppets and let the kids entertain you with a puppet show.  The sky is the limit!

PRETEND CAMPING- It may be too hot to head outdoors but you can always pitch a tent in the living room or make blanket fortress and "camp."  Read by flashlights, tell stories to each other, make shadow puppets on the wall, and end the night with s'mores in the microwave.  No need to even heat up the house!

It may just be starting to feel like summer where you live, but no doubt the heat is coming.  Be prepared to beat the heat with some fun ideas and be the fun mom on the block!  At least until school starts! ;)


Monday, June 5, 2017

34 Weeks of Clean Rinse and Repeat: Week 22-The Laundry/Mud Room

Welcome back to 34 Weeks of Clean!  If this is your first time joining us, we are so glad you are here! Even though we are on the downhill part of this series, I want to encourage you to pick up where we are and just move forward.  No step is little when it comes to cleaning and organizing.  It all counts and it is all good!  We are in the process of taking our homes back, one week at a time!  You can do it.  

This week we are headed to our laundry rooms/mudrooms!

First I want to show you this!
and this
Ummm, these are NOT my laundry rooms and my new laundry/mudroom is still a work in progress.  These are the ones of my dreams.  Actually, in my dreams mine is even more amazing, but for now, it is just a dream. When you move every few years and are usually in base housing or rentals, you have to deal with reality instead.  And trust me, reality is far different.

Before the wall was taken out

Thanks to a wonderful husband, we recently had the wall between our laundry room and mudroom taken out to make one larger space.  It is still a work in progress.  The new built-ins still need to be painted and decorating has not been finished. Because this area is directly off our kitchen, I want the cabinets to match and since I want the cabinets in our kitchen to be painted, well, you see where this is going.  It is a big project that we need to hire someone to do.  I am in saving mode at the moment so you get what you see for now.

 Because this area is off our garage and where we enter the house,  it tends to collect layers of stuff.  A bad habit we are working on, I promise!  

This week- let's tackle those laundry rooms and mud rooms!
Here we go...
  • Take everything out.  You knew it, right? ;)  Yes, you can leave the washer and dryer, but all else comes out.  If your hubby is available, the appliances should come away from the walls too!
  • Wipe down all surfaces, including floors.  It is hard to squeeze behind those appliances, but trust me, you need to.  It is dusty back there.  Ask me how I know these things!
  • If you have windows in this area, clean them, and don't forget to look up and clean out light fixtures and ceiling fans if you have them.
  • Take the time to clean out your washing machine.  Even the top loading ones can get grimy, but the newer front loading ones especially do.  We use a vinegar solution and occasionally resort to bleach.
  • Before you put things back, ask yourself
            - do I need it?
            -does it belong somewhere else?
 As for me, I'm actually still working on this project as well.  I told you I do everything I assign you, promise, but we are usually a few weeks ahead of you for blogging's sake.  This week has proven to be a crazy one, so know that while you work, I am doing so as well!  I will post more pictures later this week!

One last thing about my Dawn container.  Yes, I use Dawn to wash dishes.  We make a lot of our own cleaning products, including laundry soap, but I still use Dawn for dishes.  Any time I finish a bottle I fill it with water and put it in the laundry room as my "stain stick."  Seriously, Dawn will take out most stains, and I save a little money by "recycling."

So that is it for this week.  Pretty simple, huh?  Can't wait to hear how you did last week!  Don't forget to show us your progress by leaving a picture on our Facebook page!  If you are posting pictures each week, your name will be put into a drawing for our 34 Weeks of Clean Prize Basket that will be given away at the end of our series.  The pile is growing and will include a mason jar filled with our laundry soap!
Have a blessed week, my friends!