Homeschool on the Road

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So, this week we have been visiting family and I have been getting to attend my 20 year high school reunion. (AAAACCCCCKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How did I get so darn old???????) :)

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Which has necessitated us bringing out homeschool work with us on the road.

Now, many might say – “Take a break, enjoy yourselves. Don’t worry about school work.” And I’d really love to agree with that.

But because of our activities, Co-Op, my work, and our need to deal with PA’s strict reporting requirements this year, we really can’t just take off whenever we feel like it. I need to save those times for when I have to take days for my work events, sick kids, or my own sick days (which I do have, living with a weak immune system). So, school came with us.

I packed ONE bag of school stuff. I was surprised by how well it fit!

 
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Be prepared and just accept that something important is going to be forgotten. This all might have fit so well because I forgot the two folders of “worksheets” that were also supposed to make it in this bag. Doh!

Such is life, right?  So, making lemon-aid out of lemons, we are focusing on getting all of the reading done. Spelling has been done through SpellingCity on the tablet. Math is done on my laptop, when I’m not working. We’ve been listening to math facts songs on our iPod. (Great to harass the kids with on the long drive – Mom and Dad singing them at the top of our lungs in silly voices, Ha!) Big craft projects and those sorts of things will be ignored, we’ll be getting through the basics of what HAS to be done and that’s about it. Worksheets and whatever we can’t live “without” will be combined into next week’s folder work. Most of it will most likely be ignored completely.

At least in our house, “vacation” means we’re getting to do some field trips!

When picking field trips, we try to pick things that we can’t get near our home. Sure, we could go to the zoo, or the local kids’ science museum. BUT, we couldn’t visit a estuary or take a boat tour through a delta to see marine/river habitats! These are local resources available to my hometown area that are pretty unique, and hard to see anywhere else.. AND, they are related to our science topic (ecology, animal habitats, etc) for the year!

Delta Safaris
5 Rivers – Alabama’s Delta Resource Center

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Weeks Bay Estuary

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And take advantage of any local festivals!

Fall Into Fairhope

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So, be sure to check out all the resources at your destination, but don’t forget to see what you might be able to check out during the journey as well! From our car, we pointed out a lot of signs that related to things we studied last year when we were focusing on last year. (“Hey kids, did you see that sign said the birthplace of Daniel Boone?”) We didn’t stop on this trip because we had a 17 hour drive ahead of us, and we were on a pretty tight driving schedule. I do look forward to checking out all those places in the future, though!

But we don’t want this sudo-vacation to be all work and drudgery! So, look for the fun parts as well, after all, isn’t that part of the perks of homeschooling?? We’ve spent time with family, the girls are getting spoiled by grandparents and doted on by everyone, we’ve renewed our love of all fried seafood (I’m sorry Yankee-ville – you just can’t cook seafood the way God intended it to be done), and true Southern sweet tea. (Nectar from heaven, I tell you!) We stopped half-way on our trip to see dear homeschooling friends that I only get to know from online and now our girls are all “besties.” (Don’t you love that age where playing together for an hour makes you BFFs?) We’ve been having a family adventure and enjoying each other. And that’s really important because that can get lost in the stress of the day-to-day nonsense of life. Even for us crazy homeschoolers who are around each other all day long.

Our Homeschool Mission Statement

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Since I discussed Creating a Homeschool Mission Statement during my Preparing for Convention series, I thought I’d actually share with you what Hubby and I have decided on. This has been reviewed and updated for this year. (And is based on “Defining Your Homeschool Mission: It’s More Than Your Why“) It still serves us pretty well, but we refined it a bit.

Our Homeschool Plan

Our Goal

That our children become well-rounded, well-educated, interested individuals – who have the ability to investigate their own interests and be productive, independent, successful adults (however success is defined by them). We want our children to have strong Christian hearts and spiritual knowledge, as well emotionally and spiritually healthy.

“Our mission isn’t simply to pursue knowledge, but to pursue God’s wisdom and prepare our children to become God’s effective servants. We want our daughters to grow confident in Christ and the unique role that God created them to fulfill for His greater glory.” (quote that I loved enough to steal to use for ourselves.)

Verses That We Base Our Homeschool Plans On

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. — Proverbs 22:6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. — Proverbs 3:5-6

 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? — Mark 8:36

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. — Deuteronomy 6:4-9

What Are Our Non-Negotiables?

  • They must be challenged and be on a “college-ready” path, whether they go or not.
  • College itself is flexible, advanced training or education of some sort is not.

How Do We Evaluate Our Efforts and Results?

  • Their joy in learning. Learning can and should be fun, and more is retained when they enjoy what they are doing.
  • Their curiosity and desire. Education should serve as a vehicle to whet their appetite for more knowledge, and give them the vehicle to further that knowledge.
  • Successfully learning, retaining lessons. Not regurgitating information but truly understanding it.
  • Personal relationship with and love for Christ. Deepening knowledge and understanding of the Bible, exploration of applying that understanding to their own lives, and sharing that love with others.

What We Look For in Curriculum

  • Christian-based education.
  • Family based curriculum and learning together as much as possible.
  • Focused education decisions for each child. Dividing topics that are age appropriate, changing curriculum for each when necessary.
  • Should encourage the love and joy of learning, not on “teaching to the test,” or “Common Core Standards.”
  • Flexibility of time and curriculum and interests.
  • Ease of program on teacher. Minimal preparation needed. No personal need to reinvent the wheel.
  • Spending time with girls and as a family.

Have you created a Family Mission Statement, or  a Homeschool Mission Statement/Plan? I’d love for you to share it with us if you have!

Essential Oils in the “Classroom?”

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I’ve started to experiment using essential oils as part our homeschool experience! (And in our home as well!)

One of my dear mommy friends introduced me to doTerra. For years I’ve been watching her blog about her experience being super “granola” (that’s my word, not hers, and I do mean that as a compliment! :) ).

Because she also homeschools, (and yes, also the first person I met that was a homeschooling mom!) I made sure to ask her about how she might use essential oils as part of her “classroom experience.” And of course, being a step ahead, she had already blogged about it!

Healing in Our Homes – Back to School

And here are a few “back to school” posts directly from the doTerra blog:

Backpack Makeover
Back-to-School with dōTERRA Essential Oils
Essential Oils in the Classroom: Part 1
Essential Oils in the Classroom: Part 2
Essential Oils in the Classroom: Part 3
School and Serenity
The Secret to School Success

I am just getting started with this, and I’m very excited about the opportunities this might give my family to improve our health, AND continue our homeschool time.

Because we also have ADHD in our family, I am also looking forward to seeing how this might also help us channel that amazing bundle of energy toward our schoolwork!

Now I have a few projects in mind to start with!

First of all, we used essential oil in our homemade laundry detergent. In the past, I’ve used lavender, this time we are using lemon!

I also want to make new Foaming Hand Soap. I purchased the containers at Target and have finally used up the soap that came in them. I’m thinking I will use the “On Guard” blend in these.

Also, I want to make Personal Aromatherapy Necklaces for our girls. I think this will be very useful with our homeschool work, using “InTune” for focus with ADHD, for example.  PLUS, what a great, fun craft activity when we make our own! I am even thinking of inviting over some other homeschool moms and used this as a “get to know other homeschool moms / mom night out” activity as well.

If you use essential oils in your home or in your homeschool experience, I’d like to know! What do you do?

Waking Up Full of Awesome!

I’ve had an idea to write this post for several years now, and just never got around to it. But suddenly tonight, I knew it was the right time.

Melissa Atkins wrote a blog in 2011 starting, “There was a time when you were five years old, and you woke up full of awesome” and I knew exactly who she was talking about.

Because I know someone who wakes up full of awesome. Every. Single. Day.

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Our Oldest, December 2010. Full of Awesome-ness

Eight years ago today, I got to meet this amazing gal.

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Little did I know that this sweet angelic baby (who could easily projectile puke 6 feet – what a talent!) was going to grow up into one of the spunkiest, sweetest, most loving and most energetic people I have ever met. Seriously – she has more feisty squeezed into her little body than should be physically possible. And she wakes with an amazing smile on her face every single gosh darn morning. Usually even before the sun has come up.

When she was about 4 1/2, I bought her an alarm clock to keep her IN bed, not to get her out!

Sometimes I feel like I spend my days trying to figure out how to expend all that energy before she spontaneously combusts. Actually, I do spend my days like that. Partly in hopes that she will sleep (so I can), and partly in total amazement. Where in the world does it all come from?

???????????????????????????????This chick is one cool kid. Her exuberance and zest for life draw people to her like moths to a flame. She can walk up to a total stranger and make best friend in SECONDS. Effortlessly. Hubby and I even have look for each other that says, Yup, here she goes again.     ???????????????????????????????229062_10152235213332366_1324306355_n 150925_10152533555587366_401314081_n 10401395_10153089196287366_5140085502788745933_nShe has her own fashion sense. I definitely had nothing to do with that!

ry%3D480Life for her is an adventure just waiting to happen and she dying to dive into the deep end and revel in all of it. I have honestly never met someone so just full of JOY. She speaks in exclamation points and means it.

SONY DSC SONY DSC1170693_10152838236392366_231027279_nHer imagination is a deep ocean of amazing ideas and FUN for all involved. She has this insatiable thirst for knowing – knowing anything and everything. She can ask you more questions than you knew EXISTED.

Really. She can make your ears hurt.

10155775_10152995037022366_5686302409326331016_nShe has this massive heart and capacity for caring. She loves to the point where you just can’t help but smile and love back, warmed just by being in her presence.

10300704_10153089382207366_6327866733618427532_nThis girl is just so full of awesome, it can’t help but fall out on anyone who is around her.

10313531_10153089196537366_9068788465479046416_nI pray she never ever loses it .

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More On Our New Year: Recipe For Success

I’ve been finding a lot of business articles lately (I read them for my career coaching business) to the effect of “What Successful People Do Before Breakfast Every Day” or something similar. I read these articles and think about why we, as homeschool moms, as moms in general, aren’t looking at these articles and applying them to our own lives. Heck, don’t we even make jokes of being “CEO of ___ Home” sometimes?

I WANT to teach my children successful life skills. I WANT them to have the ability to be successful CEO’s, if that is what their future entails. But yet, we all know kids learn by watching US. US. So, why aren’t we implementing these lessons in our own lives? Do you really think the only thing you can pass on to your children is how to clean a bathroom and cook a meal? Why aren’t we homeschool moms truly considering ourselves successful leaders? Aren’t we? Don’t we want our family (i.e. “company” in terms of these articles) to be successful? Aren’t we leaders of our children? How can they learn to lead themselves if we don’t first lead them?

So, those are the thoughts that were rolling through my head when I saw the article, “Here’s the Schedule Very Successful People Follow Every Day” this morning.  Following the points of this article, here are some of the thoughts I had about our new year and new schedule. (The article talks about “systems” and “routines.” I like those words a lot better- they seem a lot less stressful!)

“The Morning Ritual-Laura Vanderkam studied the schedules of high-achievers. What did she find? They rise early. Almost all have a morning ritual.”

Oh my gosh, I HATE this one. I am NOT a morning person. I NEVER WILL BE SO QUIT TRYING TO MAKE ME ONE! I will never be someone who gets up at 4am just to get ahead of everyone else. Seriously, I want my sleep! 7am is the maximum earliest I will get up. Period. Forever. There is not enough money in the world to me to deal with 0’dark-early. But, I will admit to dragging out of bed much later whenever I’m allowed by the shorties in the house. Add laziness in with dealing with chronic health issues and a touch of occasional insomnia – and you’ve got a recipe for a late-starting-mama.

So, yes, I’m going to start setting our new home and new year with “systems and “routines” for mornings. I’ve got the girls pretty well set up for themselves, and now I’ve got to go back to implementing one for me! My unwritten list currently consist of:

  • Praying and Praising God before I even get out of bed. Giving Him my first moments of the day.
  • Showering and getting dressed and ready for the day- basically what I call “looking like a human being” (minus makeup unless I have to).
  • Making my bed and straightening up of my room. (I make the girls do it, I need to model good habits for them. At least that is the mantra I repeat to myself.)
  • Wipedown and straightening up of bathroom. (Again, I make the kids do it.)
  • Starting the chores that can do themselves (laundry and dishes).
  • Overall straightening up to start the day of the top floor of the house before going downstairs. Not the deep cleaning but making sure one floor is more or less presentable. Seeing if certain chores needed to be added to kid list that day, such as dusting, etc. Grabbing whatever doesn’t belong on that floor and moving it to appropriate floor.
  • Throwing food at the children. Someone else might refer to that as loving making breakfast for your darlings, but less face it, coffee has not happened on this list yet!

And yes, I’m going to make it a goal to actually start being consistent with this routine at 7am.

“If you want to achieve work-life balance you need to determine what is important and focus on that. (And research shows goals make you happier.) Having concrete goals was correlated with huge increases in confidence and feelings of control.”

Oh yeah, us homeschool moms love our goals and plans, right? I believe creating your homeschool mission statement (here or here) or a family mission/vision statement is the very first step. And I’m sure that you’ve created your curriculum plan and have that organized, because that’s usually the very first thing us homeschool moms think of!

But, what about the rest? The home, church, outside activities, family life, and yourself? What are those concrete goals?

For the first time in several years, I created a list of goals for this year for myself – ones that had nothing to do with homeschooling! Because, you know what? I am not JUST a homeschool mom. I am a woman, a wife, a mom, and a small business owner. I am also a scrapbooker and lover of music. I am a Child of the Most High God. And I have found that when I shove all that to the side to give it all only to the homeschooler part or only to the work part, that “work/life balance” thing feels very out-of-tune. And I feel miserable because my own personal needs are being shoved aside and not fulfilled. Those things MUST be scheduled in a built into my routine ON PURPOSE! There are things I need to do to survive, and there are things I need to do to thrive. Attending an indepth Bible study, scrapbooking once a month with friends, getting that occasional date night out.

Which leads us to:

“Important Work First Thing — With No Distractions . . . Early morning is also when you’re most disciplined. . . In studies of geniuses, most did their best work early in the day.”

Yeah, running around trying to squeeze everything in because I started my day later than I ought just builds more stress and makes me more cranky. Added in, I start homeschooling with that lengthy ToDo list pounding through my brain and little girls clamoring for my undivided attention. Stress upon stress upon stress does not equal success. Stress makes me tend to withdraw and burrow into my hole – which honestly leads to less satisfaction and less homeschool success as well. I can’t tell you how many times we ended homeschool “early” this past year just because I couldn’t deal. I just desperately needed space!

I just really need ALONE time in the morning. I need to be by myself, alone with my thoughts. I need to be able to focus on ToDo list and create mental order to my day. Being more of a introvert than 2/4 of my family (which is not saying much because that 2/4 of the family is SOOO extroverted they’d talk to a brick wall), I feel like I need to “prepare” to deal with people each day. I do better when I have this “white space” in my life.

If I actually start my date remotely on time, I will have the ability to do this. I plan on blocking out one hour each morning for myself – for devotional and prayer time, for writing time for work (where most of my ToDo list gets bogged down), etc. Sometimes to accomplish this I have been outside while the girls ride their bikes or play outside (burning off some of their Energizer Bunny energy) and that works too. But I just need this time as much as I need air.

Regroup When You Slow Down.”

If I have learned one thing in the past few years, is to listen to my body. I have to respect it when it is telling me that I am getting close to hitting the wall. There is no such “”pushing through” or “pushing past” it for me anymore. I no longer have the Energizer Bunny’s energy and that was a bitter pill for me to swallow. So if my body says take a break, I must take that break. Often it won’t be long, perhaps a 20-30 minute rest will do it.

Also, studies show there is a normal lag around 3pm in your circadian rhythms- make sense why 3pm is normal “coffee break” time right? That’s why I really love the idea of “afternoon tea.” Not that I like tea so much. I do like the idea of just taking a break and recharging and reconnecting with family for a few minutes each day before the craziness of the afternoon and evening starts. If possible (with my work schedule), I am going to try and start an “afternoon break with Mommy” each afternoon when my girls normally have snack-time, where we can sit and have “tea” together. This will just be a slightly fancier version! And to help out, I can give my girls the project of setting the table and getting everything ready (except the actual tea) beforehand.

“A Relaxing Evening. Though successful people do work long hours, the greats almost all take the evening off to recharge.”

When you work out of the home, the idea is that you leave work there and not carry with you through the front door. But when you ARE at home, it’s like you never leave the office! At some point you just need to STOP. Stop cleaning, stop prepping, stop organizing and checking emails and writing articles and whatever. And this is the part I am just not that good at.

Part of that was the stress of trying to keep up with DC-based finances and also build up my business as well. In effect,  I’ve been doing jobs at once – homeschool, mom, my business, and a contract job to fill in the cracks. And well, that often spilled far into the evenings. I am hoping and looking forward to that improving in our new home. At some point you have have to say, “To Heck With It All!” and leave it for another day.

And how in the world do we recharge? I love reading to the girls before bedtime – it gives me an excuse to re-enjoy some of my childhood favorites. (We are in the midst of On the Banks of Plum Creek now, and I’m planning to read Pippi Longstocking next.) Perhaps I’ll play with my scrapbooking stuff, or recharge and reconnect with the hubby. Goodness knows we could use some of that. Perhaps occasionally I’ll be able to squeeze out for a walk/jog in our new neighborhood while hubby is in charge of bath time? Obviously anything with screens is discouraged,  because the false light is actually not going to help you sleep at night.

And one of the main points, and something I’ve been trying to improve on this year, is going to bed at a reasonable hour. If you’re staying up til 2am, then of course it’s going to be hard to make it through the day! Since I’m more of a night person (surrounded by morning people), this is difficult for me to do, but I feel so much better when I make it happen. My current goal is to be in bed by 11 – with the idea that hopefully sleep will not be far behind.

“Knowing the best time to get the right things done is key. What will this schedule do for you? Well, when the day ends you’re still going to find that you didn’t get everything done. But that won’t bother you much because you did the things that mattered, and did them well.”

What I love about this article is that it’s not about being a “drone” tied to the clock, or being a slave to a “schedule.” I like that it focuses more on how working with your body’s natural rhythms can be more successful and more rewarding. And that is what I am personally striving for. Yes, I probably won’t get more done, but I hope to get done what is more important and get it all done well.

If you have “routines” or “systems” that work well for you, I’d really  like to hear about them! I am always looking for new ideas! Let’s all help each other start our “new year” off right!

First Things First: Thinking About the New Year

Well, we have made it back to the same hotel we started our DC lives in. We have survived and perhaps even thrived a little amidst the chaos and stress.  We have packed out of our house and once again living in hotel limbo before moving to our new location.  (To Pennsylvania, for those who are wondering. More on that another time.)

So, since we’ll be “starting over” in a few weeks in a new location, my mind has really been focused on our new year. New school year specifically, but also creating our lives in a new place. New routines. I really hate the word schedule – but yeah, that’s what I mean.

Our girls are older this time. More self sufficient. (And potty trained!!!!) More self entertained. Much more able to participate and help in family life. Really, they are fabulous helpers. But being older also means a bit more involved – schoolwork is a bit more intense and takes longer. Girls are involved in regular activities that require more time and organization. I’m working now too. Which takes more time away than I’d like. And which requires me to live much more tied to the clock than I prefer. But I’m also doing really great work for very good pay, and truly making a difference and helping people.  There are just a lot more balls in the air this time – and it’s important that I plan and prep how to keep them that way.

There are things I hope to do differently in our new home:

First of all, I hope we can make our homeschool time a little less stressful. It’s been quite a busy year and you guys know I’ve already talked about being behind. My first goal is to get all of that DONE. Then, with our new curriculum, I really focused on things that could be enjoyable and done together. I didn’t want to spend time doing work that was a drag for me to go through as well! I’m trying to get away from “busywork” and focus on true learning, though I know sometimes we’re going to NEED to do those worksheets – practicing math facts and writing skills, etc. I’m looking forward to a lot more exploring and field trip time in our new area! Because they are older and can read fairly well now, there is a lot more they can do independently (I am using a computer program for math, for example.) We also applied to join a co-op, which I truly hope will take some burden off, and I found an online scheduler/portfolio log type-program (more on that soon!) that I will use, since tracking is going to be very important in the homeschool laws in our new state.

I’m hoping that we can build in some cleaning help into our budget. Honestly, I really feel this is completely necessary- I just can’t do all that I’m doing and keep that big a house in liveable shape. I’m willing to go without a few things to have someone come in once a month and scrub toilets. I’ll start organizing this once we move in.

I’m also hoping to build in some “white space” in my day. I got very little of this in our time in DC (still don’t have it, since I’m sitting at a hotel, working my brains out while the girls are at camp!) Our financial needs were such that I needed to be that busy in DC, and I’m hoping that will slack off after we move. But also, I am going to need more time with the girls and with the hubby. We need “relaxation” in our home desperately. One thing that really worked here was going to a meal assembly prep place to create all of our meals monthly. (WHICH I LOVED, by the way. LOVED.) I haven’t found much like that locally, so I’m going to attempt to do it for myself. It’s not as easy to do that gluten-free, but I’m going to make a massive effort. I love just pulling a bag out of the freezer to defrost each morning. I LOVE not having to think about meal planning.

I am also hoping to build in an hour of “me time” to work each morning. I’ve learned in the past two years that I really need an hour of “personal thinking time” so that my brain can handle two extremely active, energetic girls in the morning. But also, I’m hoping this will helping me put a dent into my work so that I can feel less stressed by the never-ending todo list pulling at me while I do focus on school work. My ultimate goal is that if I do schedule that hour in daily – this massive pile of writing work that I’m so far behind in will eventually get caught up. Perhaps. One day before I turn 50. :) And I can also use that time to keep myself focused on the Word as well.

A new idea I’ve wanted to implement for a while is starting to have “afternoon tea.” While I personally am not a huge fan of tea, my girls love having tea parties. And I’d really like to institute a 3pm break (when they normally snack anyway) for myself as well. This way I can get away from the computer and work a bit, and truly reconnect with my girls for a short time. I can make it their responsibility to “set up tea” every day (except for the hot tea) and I’ve even got my eye on an adorable tea set! They are growing up so fast, and I feel like I’m missing out. So, perhaps this tea time will turn into a great time to build up for future trust and communication when they get older.

And I really need to add in some form of exercise. I already know that I will be going even more focused into healthy living, etc because I consider myself “half-way to healthy.” I’ve been very focused on this and I am doing SOOOOoooooo much better than I was, but I really feel I have further to go. And now I feel like I am at the point where I need to start focusing on getting that number on the scale to go down once again and getting things firm and tone and reasonably close to where they ought to be! With our insurance, we actually get a deep discount at some gyms in the area, so we will check those out and see if it’s possible for us to join. (We’ve been told the Y is amazing there, as well.) I won’t be able to do high-impact, hard-core anything for a while, but I’d like to start out with some yoga classes. And get our girls into ballet – not only because they love it, but because I know how good it is for posture and poise! I want to model a healthy, active lifestyle for them, so they learn those good habits and see that as “normal” when they become an adult.

And I’ve got a bit of science to back up all those ideas. Here is a study that talks about how frequent breaks help keep kids focused. Really, how can adults be that much different? We need  breaks to rejuvenate and clear our minds. I know I do, at least. So I’m trying to think of our schedule with that in mind.

Day 3 of #HEAVCON 2014 – It was awesome!

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2014speakersKeynotes We made it! We survived #HEAVCON!

I know this post is a little late, but we ended getting in late last night, and I frankly slept most of the day today. Had to catch up on the multiple nights of no sleep – I am getting much too old for that. HA!

So, Saturday ended up being a really good low-key day for us. Most of our “chores” were done, and I could actually GO to a couple sessions. And because some have told me they are actually interested in my shopping and curriculum adventures over the weekend (which cracks me up – I always feel like I’m talking to myself when I write that sort of thing!), I’d thought I’d share what I got on Saturday.

Late Friday night, after polling tons of people all weekend, AND all my friends on Facebook (what homeschool moms did before Facebook I have NO IDEA), I ended up changing my mind completely about my spelling curriculum. Saturday morning I ended up taking back all of the All About Spelling curriculum I had purchased, and we’ve decided to use SpellingCity.com next year. There are a couple reasons I decided on this. First of all, after reading lots of online reviews, I realized I’d have to spend 20 minutes at least separately for each child to do spelling each day. That’s really 40+ minutes out of my limited 3-4 hour time block for homeschool. Second, it looked like a lot of work for the mom (maybe, reports were conflicting). Third, I just couldn’t get excited about it. I think I will like Spelling City and I’m pretty sure both my girls will. They LOVE getting to play on the computer and their tablets (we almost only have educational stuff on their tablets). They can learn the words through playing games, and having fun!

And I think that is what I am looking for in the upcoming year. You know, that journey homeschool moms talk about – when we have to “de-public-school” ourselves in order to homeschool! I keep thinking, why do certain courses have to be unfun? WHY? We want our kids to learn, yes. But it’s even more important that they love learning. As long as a child things learning is fun, teaching them really doesn’t feel like work, right? It’s more facilitating their learning. At least that’s my working theory.

Don’t worry – I haven’t stepped over to the unschooling side. I haven’t gone quite that far, yet! :)

I also ended up buying what I needed for our My Father’s World: Exploring Countries and Cultures curriculum next fall.  Oh, and I picked up Handwriting Without Tears’ Cursive program. In the afternoon, I did just a little splurging. I got all of this at Melinda Boring‘s booth. My girls have already dived into much of what I got to add to our “fidget basket.” (Those are toys they can play with quietly that fulfill their need to fidget when I need them to be still. Great for places like church, or during activities where they need to fidget to listen.) Great stuff.

20140607_143524 So, that’s it. I’m done shopping for next year! Which is a good thing, since the movers are arriving in exactly two weeks, we’ll live in a hotel for a month, after which will come the unpacking and setting up the new house, and we’ve got oh, about ten weeks left in the curriculum for this year?? And please someone, don’t let me forget I need to get my oldest’s testing done and sent in before we pack out. Ay yi yi.

So, what are my lessons learned from #HEAVCON 2014? (I’m writing this down, so I can remember for next year!)

#1A. Earplugs. So I can drown out the “talks-in-her-sleeper” and the “snorer” and get some real sleep.
#1B. Bring my own pillow. It’s worth hauling more junk to have this.

#2. Consider bringing one of these. I’m sure we figure out how to attach a rolling cart to the back, right?

20140607_092114#3. Take selfies and family pictures the first day when you’re not completely exhausted and look it. Use bribery to make the children smile if you have to. Consider bringing the really nice camera, because your phone camera really can only do so much.

20140607_091204I love our homeschool TShirts!20140607_124015There is just NOT enough time to do everything. Really. Oh, why can’t we do HEAV twice? Or have four days? There was just so many things to DO, that were all going on at the same time! It just didn’t seem fair. Oh well, at least I have all the recordings sitting on a thumb drive now. I plan to upload them to my iPod and listen to them throughout the year. I am so thankful for the recordings!

Most importantly, the few sessions I did get to sit in on, reminded me just how important it is that we homeschool our children. I know I always feel slightly uncomfortable being really vocal about my support for homeschooling – I hate the idea of offending or hurting someone’s feelings, I know that some have really great public school experiences, I do believe homeschooling is a calling that some haven’t been called to (yet), and some don’t get the opportunity to homeschool due to circumstances.

And yet.

And yet, it was very affirming  — yes, we most definitely made the right decision for our family. Yes, we are most definitely called to do this. The hubby even remarked that last year (his first) that he felt a bit out of place, and this year he didn’t. He joked that it’s probably because “now we have become one of THEM. We are comfortable at HEAV because we are now ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE!” And he was right, it felt great being surrounded by folks where we fit right in. He also says “Some of the coolest, smartest people I’ve met, I met at the homeschool conference. Homeschooling is cool.” And we love feeling like we are “cool.” HA.

Oh, speaking of hubby, he was the one wearing this shirt:

20140607_114204He wants me to add that he really learned how truly important homeschool DADS are. Sure, we always knew that, and as the “homeschool mom” I’ve been telling him that, but it was really good for him to hear that from other strong, successful homeschool dads like Voddie Baucham and others.

My last round of pictures:

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And I have to throw in a VERY SPECIAL THANK YOU to the staff in the kids program. Our girls had a BLAST. And we had a blast because they were off having a blast, and we could do things we needed to do. They did not want to leave. Our oldest burst into tears because she had made a bestie and didn’t want to lose touch. (I gave my business card to pass along to the mom.) I know exactly how much work you put into that program and you did a great job!

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So, that’s it. #HEAVCON 2014 is over. For those of you that don’t homeschool and read this, you’re probably very thankful I will start writing about other topics, and I do plan to! And I also plan to continue to share with you information and different vendors and products that we learned about at convention, but I promise to spread that out through the year.

“I am excited to be a blogger for HEAV this year. In exchange for sharing my honest opinion about this convention, I was provided with a family registration at no charge.”

Day 2 of #HEAVCON 2014 – Tips for Survival!

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2014speakersKeynotesIt’s the end of day 2 of HEAV’s Convention and I am WIPED OUT.

But before we get into all of that, let’s take a quiet moment to reflect on this. My dinner. Hellooooooo Richmond!

20140606_173833Oh and it was scrumptious, thank you very much!

 

So, I finished my rounds through the Exhibit Hall today and the UCS as well.  Stuck to my plan pretty much and didn’t overbuy the moon. Ordered my recordings, found out one of my girls can’t see the bottom line of the eye exam and should get her eyes checked when we get home, and found my handwriting curriculum. Still not sold on the spelling curriculum that I bought, but haven’t found anything I like better.

I didn’t hit too many sessions today – I got hit by complete overwhelm by about lunchtime. Tried to stick it out, but by 4pm I was D-O-N-E. I rarely get hit hit with too much sensory input, but when I do, WOWZA. So, I’d like to share with you a few new tips I came up with today!

#1 A Good Night of Sleep is REALLY important. – Confession time. I’m not a morning person. I usually have two alarm clocks with feet that wake me up, so the times that I have to wake with a real alarm clock, I tend to sleep worse. (I keep expecting to oversleep, I guess?) And it’s a hotel bed and not MY bed. Something else I didn’t realize, one of my kids talks in her sleeps and flops around like a fish on the beach! I really could have used at least an hour more of sleep. The coffee today did NOT help me at all, which is unusual. I realize all other homeschool moms in the whole world are morning people, but I still vote everything start one hour later next year!

#2. So is a good, solid breakfast. -  I learned my lesson, once again. Don’t depend on other entities to feed me. Especially if you have food issues, like me. Ya’ll that know me know I’m gluten-free, and breakfast this morning at my hotel was okay. It seemed like enough, but I really should have eaten more protein. (Again, I blame the coffee.)  Oh, and I really didn’t pack enough snacks, and my lunch was pretty limited. So, that’s on me. I’ve already packed tons of snacks in my bag for tomorrow.

#3. Have Emergency chocolate on hand. – Really, does this need explanation?? :)

#4. Take breaks when you need them! I really should have just taken a break earlier. Found a quiet secluded, corner and just chilled out for a while. But instead I tried to push through. It wasn’t a good idea.

#5. It’s okay to say you’ve had enough! – Hubby and I have agreed on this several times. Convention is ONLY three days and there is SO much going on, it’s really tempting to try to do and see and get into every single thing possible, because hey, it’s only three days! Seriously, there is just no way we can do it all, so you’ve got to pick what you HAVE to do sometimes. And how much do I love my husband and he totally “got it” when I hit the wall, and made sure we got out quick and easy? (And then took me out for some awesome ribs?) He totally gets two stars for today.

#6- COOL IDEA I “INVENTED” this weekend! - Can’t decide what to buy? Stuck on several things at different booths? Use your smart phone to take a picture of the particular curriculum, then a picture of the booth with the booth number! Then, when you’ve gone back and forth and figured it out, you can look through your pictures to figure out where you want to go back to! I did that several times today! It was great!

Tonight, before bed I’m going to grab one of my new boenjoy the extra deep tub of the hotel room for a bit, then conk out early. My plan for tomorrow is to hit the My Father’s World Booth, and one or two others to check out their spelling curriculum. (I swear I’m going to find the most amazing FUN spelling program if it absolutely KILLS me.) And I’m determined to take some time and enjoy a few of the sessions. And that is it.

I wish I could take a picture for you guys to show you how cute my kids are, completely conked out on the bed – THANK YOU KID PROGRAM FOLKS!!!!!! Will you come to my house and do that every day????????????? (I hear all the moms saying a deep and hearty Amen to that one!)

Pictures around Convention today:

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“I am excited to be a blogger for HEAV this year. In exchange for sharing my honest opinion about this convention, I was provided with a family registration at no charge.”

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Day 1 of #HEAVCON 2014!

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Wow, I hope you guys have had a blast so far! We have, and the Convention has hardly even started!

We started our trip with a stop at Redbox (2+ hours of PURE QUIET in the back seat = HEAVEN!) and a stop for a chocolate milkshake to improve a stressed-out homeschool mama’s mood. They both worked, and the nap I got while hubby drove helped quite a bit too! HA!

Because of the traffic on I95, we missed the Thursday afternoon session I was in, and had to rush to get to our blogger meeting. We got to meet several of the exhibitors before the doors opened this evening, and I have to say, you guys are in for a treat! I don’t know why I’m so surprised at how NICE everyone is at HEAV every year!

20140605_170815And look at some of the awesome products I’ve already snagged!

20140605_16293020140605_162828 20140605_22154320140605_163846So, I told hubby that my goal was to get all of MY shopping done tonight, so I could really focus on the convention the rest of the week.

My Shopping Assistants:

20140605_173618Our First Stop Every Year!

20140605_170245 20140605_170216After a stop at the Shatterpoint booth (an annual tradition now – we love it!), we dropped the kids at the Lego booth to play (don’t worry, we were right there) and they LOVED it. Made new friends, and played with Legos. Hubby was having a blast chatting up the different exhibitors (you guys probably saw him posting for me on my Twitter feed) and I hit a few booths. Just a few! Here is my haul so far!

Sorry the pictures aren’t the best – I took them trying to use the light from the bathroom while the munchkins were sleeping.

Math items – I swear those math facts are not going to beat me this year.

20140605_194225The grammar and spelling curriculum I was interested in isn’t at HEAV! How is that possible??? So, this is my current plan. After doing so much dry nonsense this past year, I’m looking for something FUN. I’m hoping this is it! And seriously, how does anyone really learn the parts of speech, if not for Mad Libs? The girls are going to get a kick out of those at least!

20140605_194400 At the moment, I’ve got “All About Spelling” – everyone I talked to swears by it. AND, it does say they have an “App” now. It still doesn’t look that exciting to me yet. We’ll see. I’m still on the lookout.
20140605_194439 And here are a few “extras” to go with our curriculum next year!
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I was just getting into a groove when the rest of the family started to revolt,  so we had to leave.  I got everything I was planning to get (except for MAYBE doing something different with spelling, I haven’t decided), and a cursive writing curriculum, which I forgot about.

On my To Do List for tomorrow (after copious cups of coffee):

1. Buy the MP3’s! There is no way I can get into all the sessions I want to!

2. Sign up the girls to get their eyes checked at the Sam’s Club booth!

3. Check out the Silent Auction!

4. Meet with some more of the wonderful vendors!

5. Enjoy all those sessions!

6. Visit the Used Curriculum Sale!

 

See you guys tomorrow! Hey, if you guys see me tomorrow – stop me! Let’s see how many selfies I can take in one day!

How to Teach Your Kids to Save the World

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My very, very, first HEAV convention, I was wandering the exhibit hall alone and stopped by a table that was offering free books.

Yeah, what kinda homeschool mom would pass that up, right?

And that was my introduction to Gospel For Asia. At a table at HEAV.

Actually, I had read the book, Revolution in World Missions a few years before and it had a profound effect on how I looked at missions. And of course that was one of the books that was free!

Speaking with one of their volunteers, I felt led to become a monthly sponsor of a missionary. At first it was really more for me, but the girls and I pray for our missionary regularly and read the regular updates from the area.

Then, we started our own efforts to help. Instead of an allowance, our girls “earn money” (more in a post later about that) to put toward helping the poor in India.  So far, my girls have collected changed and earned money to purchase chickens, rabbits, blankets, and gospel tracts.

A few months later, we got ambitious and stepped it up a notch! We created a myGFA campaign and raised money for a water filter, so they could have clean water! My girls love reading about what’s needed, and they love to shop, so we look through the booklets and pick a new project on special occasions! (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.)

In fact, we are currently working on a new campaign! My girls were horrified when we read how many in India didn’t have toilets. So, we’ve been saving up their earnings money and collecting any loose change around the house to save up and buy an outdoor toilet.  I have to admit, the girls have really been doing well! I also just started an online campaign in honor of their birthdays next month so they can “watch” and see how much they’ve raised for outdoor toilets.

This all came from spending five minutes at a booth a few years ago at HEAV, and has been a tremendous blessing and addition to our homeschool experience!

Would you like to join us? You can participate in our own campaign to buy toilets in India, or start your own! I think would be especially interesting next year as we study world geography.

And I’d love to hear how you have incorporated “missions” into your homeschooling experience, or other interesting experiences due to something you learned at HEAV!

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