2020 Summer Travels

Today, September 22, is officially the first day of fall. I’m always ready for fall when it comes, but I think most of us feel that way even more this year with all that is going on in the world. We had big plans for this summer. We were going to do an epic road trip to Colorado. It didn’t happen because of COVID, but we still made the most of the summer months.

Along with the MANY projects that we did this year we also managed to travel a little bit too.

My parents brought SJ and her cousin to Vermont for the ultimate best friends trip. They had a blast! I wasn’t with them, but I heard all about it!

 

 

Then it was the boys turn and they were whisked off to Hocking Hills where they got to sleep in Teepees! Ezie injured his shin in the creek and had to get stitches so that was a bummer. He’ll have a great battle wound to go with the awesome memories that were made during this trip.


 

J and I got to do our own little getaway. It was a ministry-related excursion to Fort Myers Florida. Our good friends are pastors there and were hosting a young adult worship night. It was so nice to visit with them and be in a tropical location for a change.

Last but not least Z and J went to Chicago for Z’s 13th birthday. Masks and closures put a slight damper on some of the plans, but not too much. It was a fun filled guys trip with lots of eating out, biking, and WALKING (the Fitbit read 30,000 steps one day!). They checked out some cool Chicago landmarks, went to the most incredible science museum and some omust-seet see places.

So even though we didn’t get to travel to the places we planned or go anywhere as a family, I am thankful that we were able to get out and about. We also made a lot of cool memories at home too. Summer 2020 ended up being pretty special after all.

By | September 22nd, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

All About Miacademy

This post is partially sponsored by Miacademy- Engaging Online Curriculum!

The number one question I have been asked when I tell people we are homeschooling this year is “What curriculum do you use?” For the first several weeks of making this big decision, I didn’t know the answer to that. A lot of veteran homeschoolers say not to worry about curriculum, but I felt nervous going from public school to homeschool and doing it all on my own.

So I did a lot of research and came very close to making some purchases that I was unsure of. Then an ad for Miacademy showed up on my Facebook. I looked into it and the more I learned about Miacademy the more I loved it! I explained it to my friends as if it were an episode of “Say Yes to The Dress”. When you find the right fit, you know!

The thing that I have been most excited about with this program were the incentives for the kids. They get to earn gold and use it to purchase things for their virtual castle. My kids love Minecraft and Animal Crossing so if you are familiar with either of these games that include building your own virtual world then you know kids really get into that stuff! I can also add gold to their accounts labeled with a certain chore or behavioral reward. When I showed my kids what Miacademy was they were begging to start school. I told them I wanted to get to know the site and figure out our schedule first. I never thought I would see the day that I would have to hold them back from starting school!

Another thing that really sold me on Miacademy was that it teaches the lessons.

I am very hands-on with homeschool, but I can’t do it all with four kids in different grades! So I love that they can learn grade specific subject and get quizzed on it. The games also allow for repetition to ensure that the information is really understood.

Even though they are doing their core lessons without me, the parent portal shows me EVERYTHING that they worked on. The parent portal sealed the deal for me. This is where I can track my kids’ progress, see how they did on assessments, and how much time was spent on the lesson. I remind them of this from time to time and it gives me leverage when I can tell that they are not really trying on a certain lesson. Mom will make you redo it if you don’t score well. So make sure you are trying your best. I could even print out report cards if I wanted.

Those were the initial features that got me excited about Miacademy, but now that we are one our 7th week of it I have learned a lot more about it all. For example, you can customize your child’s account to block certain parts of the site and/or assignments or give them full access. I chose to keep their accounts more private, but I do have them set to where they can buy and sell their creations in the online shop. This is such a cool part of Miacademy! The kids can design clothes, art, and furniture to sell (for Miacademy gold, not real money) and then they can track their earnings and shop stats in a way that is educational. As an entrepreneur myself I love this feature!!!

Okay, now that I have gone on and on about Miacademy I will share the same thing I have told all of my friends who ask- Miacademy is technically considered a full curriculum but they openly disclose that it should be used in addition to other educational tools to engage your children as they learn. There are two ways to use Miacademy in tandem with homeschool. Either use it as the primary core lesson plan and supplement with other content and activities, or you could use it to supplement your core curriculum. There are actually a lot of users who are not homeschooled that add Miacademy to traditional schooling, or as a way to keep your kids engaged in the summer.

I use it mostly for math, language arts, and typing for now. My kids dabble in the Bible, science, and a few other lesson plans on their own but I don’t assign those options to them very often. The reason I do it this way is because science, geography, history, art etc. are all things that we do well as a family. With these subjects, I can teach one lesson along with an activity or video and they can receive from it at their own level. However, math is more tricky. Language arts is also something that I really want to make sure they are covering all of the grade specific material. Since Miacademy is computer-based work there are options for print outs. I personally haven’t really utilized that yet, although I am sure I will. For now, I have workbooks and prints outs that I assign to each of them every single school day to make sure they are working on actually pencil and paper assignments. If you saw their handwriting you would know why I am a stickler about this!

So that’s the answer to what curriculum we are using! I am NOT an expert. I have only been doing this a month and who knows what the full school year will look like, but as I have done in my 13 years of blogging I aim to keep it
real about my messy life as this new season unfolds.

By | September 15th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Rehoming Our Rooster

Our chicks are about 15 weeks old already. They are still considered pullets and we hopefully only have a month left before we can expect some of them to start laying eggs.

 

This is the age we thought we would also find out for sure whether we had any roosters in our flock of ten hens. Chickens from hatcheries are sexed at birth by experts that can determine with about 90% accuracy whether the newborn is a male or female. So with 10 chicks, we knew we had a decent chance that at least one of them was actually a rooster. These odds aren’t great for us since we are not allowed to keep roosters in our neighborhood. As the chicks grew we had speculations but many of them were unfounded. Different breeds are different sizes and have larger or brighter pea combs (that floppy red thing on the top of their heads) so it’s really just a waiting game.

Wild Style was one that we had been keeping an eye on.

We named her Wild Style (from the Lego Movie) because she is an Olive Egger. Olive Eggers are crossbreeds that make green eggs. They are considered a “wild card” as far as how they will look because they may take after the mom or dad. It’s a toss up. Wild Style started out as one of my favorite chicks.

I loved cuddling with her but as she grew older she became more distant and didn’t really appreciate being handled. Then She surpassed all of the other chicks in size. The shape, the feathers, the pea comb, and her temperament all started pointing toward rooster. She was definitely more aggressive and led the pack. That can happen with a dominant hen though if there is no rooster to be in charge.

I am sure you know where this story is going. One morning when the chicks were almost 10 weeks old Z was letting them out of the coop and then came running into the house. Out of breath, he announced that Wild Style was crowing. I went outside to hear for myself and just barely caught what sounded like a feeble attempt at crowing. I didn’t see it though. The next couple of days I went out at dawn to see if I could definitely determine that Wild Style was crowing and then find a new home for her or eh… him. Every morning everyone was quiet so I let the idea go. If no one was crowing there was no hurry. Then one afternoon at 1:00 Ezie came running to me with the same discovery his brother had made the week before. Wild Style was crowing, only this time I saw it for myself. Beak turned upward, neck stretched out to be as tall as possible and then the triumphant crow. It was still quiet and cracked like a teenager going through puberty because that is what he is. I immediately snapped some pics to share online to start the search for a new home. I knew we couldn’t sell him. Roosters are a lot of work with not much pay off unless you are raising duel purpose meat birds in bulk. So I knew this would be a freebie. The problem was when I was talking to the kids about what might happen to Wild Style and the potential for him to be eaten, SJ burst into tears so much that she couldn’t catch her breath. I calmed her and assured her we didn’t have to worry about that. I figured we would save that lesson for another time!

Then that night I was laying in bed I imagined my pet that I have pampered and nurtured ending his life being scared and having his head chopped off.

It was not pleasant to think about. I was about to become a vegetarian over all the thoughts swirling in my head. So I tried not to think about it. I posted him for free online and was hoping someone caring might adopt Wild Style and let him free range his little heart out. Realistically I would be satisfied with just not knowing the fate of Wild Style wherever he went and then pretending it was a happy ending. The next day I got multiple people interested in the bird. One was obviously going to eat him which I didn’t care, but they also wanted me to deliver. I am not going to drive an hour to drop off my friendly, coddled chick for you to kill and eat! Then I got a message from a man that said he had lots of chickens and that he could take Wild Style! He assured me that he would have lots of room and a happy home for him. Not only that, but he would pick him up himself (which was great since we didn’t have a crate or cage to transport him). He also put a colored tag on his ankle and said we could come visit Wild Style any time! It was a dream come true.

Photos of the kids bringing Wild Style to his new owner and saying their goodbyes.

So a month later since J had labor day off we finally had the chance to come to the farm to see Wild Style. He had changed a lot but he was still friendly with the kids.

We also got to explore this beautiful countryside, see lots of animals, and go fishing!

One of the coolest parts was that we made new friends with the owners of this farm. I know rehoming a rooster isn’t always like a real life Charlotte’s Web, but this sure was a special gift from our heavenly Father to us and we feel very blessed by the whole experience.

By | September 9th, 2020|Uncategorized|1 Comment

First Impression of First Month of Homeschooling

We officially have one month of homeschooling under our belt. One of our recent lessons was about cause and effect. I loved this sincere answer my daughter gave on one of her worksheets.

It’s the truth.

I feel like it isn’t real yet because we started school a month earlier than our public school district did. Now that they are starting it seems more official and I actually am even more nervous than I was before! I realize that this probably shows just how much of a product of the system I am. Maybe that will eventually wear off. August went really well though! I looked back through the photos to remind myself what I wanted to highlight and it was tricky because there are a lot of things that weren’t necessarily “homeschool” but were very educational. For example when the kids went to the Creation Museum with my parents,

or when we observed wildlife in the back yard

or made Amish Friendship Bread from a starter bag that my sister in law gave us.

That’s the cool thing about homeschooling is that you don’t turn it on and off. It’s perpetually educating your children and fostering a love of learning in them. Granted this is what I have always done with my kids, even when they were not homeschooled. I guess it’s just around the clock now.

Anyway, one of my absolute favorite homeschool moments was a field trip we took on the first week to a park called Heritage Village.

There just so happened to be a free event at a place that teaches about life in Ohio in the 1800s and it was phenomenal.

Another hands down favorite lesson in my opinion was when the kids made chocolate chip cookies.

We were reading a book about a boy who didn’t have parents around and he tried to make cookies and they didn’t turn out. I told the kids I wanted them to make chocolate chip cookies without my help. They immediately started considering the ingredients and utensils in the kitchen. I told them it doesn’t start there. First, you had to find a recipe (I directed them to the Messy Mom Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe which they printed out). From there they had to see if we even had all of the ingredients (which we did not). So I told them I would help them get to the grocery store and I would pay for the groceries, other than that it was all up to them.

Z printed out the recipe, while SJ made a list of instructions, and Ez wrote down the grocery list and then we headed to the store. 

I sat back and watched them learn that there is so much more to cooking than just the final results in the kitchen! There is money, planning, preparation, and a lot of time that is involved in the whole process start to finish.

When they actually made the cookies they kicked me out of the kitchen. I tried to resist because I wanted to take pictures. So they took my phone and took their own pictures.

I had forgotten all about it until I found this selfie later. It was so cute! The cookies turned out great and the experience was even greater.

Another fun homeschool day was when we had a big field trip P.E. outing to swim with their cousins who live in Kentucky. We only swam one other time this year because of COVID, so getting them in the water again before the weather turned cold was a big priority for me. It was the perfect day for it.

We have also been going through each country of the world a day at a time. The goal is to learn about all 195! It has been so cool.

I personally am learning A LOT right alongside them and each day we pray over the countries we talk about. The kids love to use the Intelliglobe. We were so blessed to have found this gem at a yard sale several years ago and boy has it come in handy.

Every day at the end of our school day I have the kids write in a journal. One day I read these precious words and it made my heart melt.

Today we talked about the world. We learned the [ASL] signs and verses of the world. Like John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son.”… We also learned about Algeria and that America isn’t the only country that matters to God. I also prayed for Algeria…

Of course reading something like that makes it all worth it!

Oh and one more favorite memory from this month is doing schoolwork outside.

I love that the kids can get sun and fresh air while learning casually in the treehouse or on the patio. I feel like when weather permits it’s so much healthier than being cooped up indoors.

Often times we have had other children join in on our school time.

I’m sure that won’t happen as much now that public school is back in session but it’s been a fun twist to spontaneously include other kids in our “classroom”.

Today I was doing our read aloud and I looked around and each of the kids were holding a chicken.

I had to question if this was my real life, but actually I loved it! I wanted to have someone walk up and take a picture. Since that didn’t happen I snapped this pic myself at the end of our reading time.

Now onto the ugly parts of homeschooling so far. This is an actual photo one of the kids captured of me teaching one morning.

We have a lot of fun but there are times that I have them work individually on math and language arts so that it is grade specific. This includes daily worksheets, reading, and writing. For my two middle children this can be like pulling teeth! I know they never acted this belligerent with their teachers. It can become a battle and one child in particular has been digging their heels into the ground. I’m hoping as they come to the realization that we ARE doing this every day and there is no way to opt out, then maybe they will start co-operating more easily. Some days are better than others and I have already seen progress in the area of writing. I want to ensure I am keeping it real on Messy Mom because I could say “It’s going great” and if someone peeked in to see the arguing, whining, meltdowns, and disrespect that goes down on the daily then you might call me out on my optimism.

So there you have it. Month one done. I am sure I’ll be writing a lot more on the subject of homeschooling. We have an entire school year ahead of us.

By | September 4th, 2020|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Pink and Light Aqua Girls’ Room Details

I have been enamored with the girls’ room makeover!

Last week I shared about the wallpaper from Limitless walls (which I love) but there are so many little touches that made it all come together. I thought it might be cool to give a little “photo tour” and show off all the girlie decor. I hope it will be inspiring, especially for those working with a small budget like we were.

Okay, so first off the dresser! When you walk in the room and turn left there is a gorgeous white dresser with gold knobs. This used to be my dresser which was a freebie from a friend when I got used 15 years ago!

I forgot to take a “before” picture before I started to dismantle it, but it was your basic all wood dresser.

J screwed and nailed the thing into shape before we painted because it was falling apart a little bit. Then we sanded, primed, and painted it with farmhouse white. The knobs were sanded and spray painted with gold. Here’s a little painting hack for knobs- it’s easier to screw them onto a scrap piece of wood and spray them all upright.

I used Krylon Premium metallic 18 KT Gold spray paint. I saw this recommended on a YouTube tutorial that I watched and it was the perfect shade.

 

I originally planned on buying knobs but when you have to replace 16 it adds up quick! Dressers are not cheap either so this dresser rehab was the perfect solution and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

The lamp was on sale at Hobby Lobby.

A little side note- SJ and I were due for a mother-daughter day and so we went shopping together for the room makeover and had the most amazing time! I am not someone who goes shopping very often so to have money set aside for it and have fun looking around and picking things out is the best! I don’t go near full priced items at Hobby Lobby so we were so blessed that all the tabletop decor items and lamps were half off that day! That’s also where we got the Faith sign and the golden geometric shape.

The macrame photo hanger was from Amazon.

I love that I could do graphics and text on photos as a super cute and frugal way to make customized art. We have since added a few feathers to the clothespins. This was a really fun project and way cheaper than buying all the cutsie rainbow and quotes prints from the store.

On the next wall of the room, we have the bunkbed!

This was something the girls were really looking forward to and was a long time coming. I have searched far and wide for a cheap used bunk bed, or even a new one on sale. I jumped on everyone I saw on second-hand online market places but the deals never went through. At the beginning of the year we purchased one from one of those auction sites and brought it home only to find it missing pieces! After so many months we finally gave up and just bought one for retail price at Ikea. The boys’ bunk bed and our bed are all from Ikea so we know they are comfortable and will last.

Bedding is something that I did not expect to make such a dent in the pocketbook! I tried so hard to score a deal on two twin bedding sets but the sticker shock was so intense I finally decided to go with the pillows and blankets they got for Christmas a couple of years ago and then we based all of the colors around that.

This saved us a couple hundred dollars. I did buy some unicorn sheets from Walmart and a few throw pillows from the thrift store. The full-length mirror is another Ikea purchase. Our ten year old daughter is at the age where a full-length mirror is an essential part of picking out the outifit of the day, am I right ladies?

The final wall (aside from the closet) is the ombre accent wall.

I got the curtains from a thrift store (It has geometric shapes on it) and the clock is from Walmart. We bought both items on our Girls Shopping Day. I was elated when I found the shelf at a yard sale because I wanted something against that wall, but I wanted the wall to show as much as possible.

Last, but not least, the rug is also an Amazon purchase.

The girls are obsessed with the faux fur. I’m not going to lie, I roll it up and put it on a shelf in the closet half of the time because it’s white… and on the floor…and I want it to stay nice for a little while.

The day of the final reveal I knew I needed to get some professional shots of the room since this room makeover was also a job for me as a blogger. I told the girls the plan and they were both all about it. We got way more than enough photos and had a blast doing it.

They loved being “models” and it reminded me of the time I got to do a runway bridal show for a neighbor that made wedding dresses. I was probably only six years old, but I will never forget that feeling. All eyes were on me in my silkie peach and lace flower girl dress as I walked the runway. The announcer described the details of my outfit and declared as a matter of fact- “Natalie is so pretty in peach”. I think I tried to wear peach until I was 21 because of that comment. If was said in a microphone then it must be true! The memory was so impacting to me that I wanted my hair the same way at my wedding (braided in a crown around my head) and that’s it’s exactly what I did!

The girls were the ones that came up with all of those poses for the photo shoot.

Mom take a picture of us reading a book on the rug.

How about we look in the mirror?

Let’s put our dolls on the dresser and then sit underneath them!

I know it’s just a room and it’s not going to be fresh and new for long, but the whole experience of planning and shopping, and decorating with my girls really was priceless.

By | August 29th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Dramatic Changes With Limitless Walls

This blog post is sponsored by Limitless Walls. The best place to go for wall murals to transform any room! I really can’t recommend them enough. I have absolutely loved collaborating with them on this most recent home makeover project.

Whether it is a wall mural, wallpaper, or a gallery wrap, everything Limitless Walls does is custom and on-demand, so it’s printed to be tailored to your space perfectly. Limitless describes the company well because when you go to their site you will find every color, pattern, image, or decor concept that you could imagine. It can be overwhelming, but the search bar helps narrow it down. Or even better, if you need help deciding, a Limitless Wall artist will reach out to you! Last but not least you can upload your own image if you’d like.

Our girls Ellis and SJ’s room was desperately in need of a makeover. It was mostly bland when we moved in three years ago.

Then it was extremely cluttered and mismatched. YIKES!

Now it’s dreamy and serene.

I have soooo much to share about this room makeover that there is no way I can contain it in this one blog post, but the big show-stopping feature of the room is definitely the mural from Limitless Walls.

I chose this design because it went with the pink and light teal bedding that the girls already had.

Here is what it looked like on the website when I ordered it.

And here is another peek at what it looks like on their wall.

 

We primed and repainted the closet trim and door along with painting all of the other walls a “Sea Lily” paint by Valspar.

The wallpaper was a two person job, but J and I were able to tackle it by ourselves one night while the girls camped out in the basement.

You can imagine how excited the girls were to see their new room when they woke up the next day.

Doing this room makeover, not only FOR them but WITH them has definitely been one of the highlights of my year. Girl time at its finest. I love that it’s youthful, but also something that they can grow into since it’s not babyish. They are going to make so many precious, priceless memories in this room.

I’m not going to lie, the girl’s room is so cute it makes me want to hang out in there too! Maybe I will.

By | August 17th, 2020|Uncategorized|3 Comments

First Day of Homeschool!!!

Yesterday was our first day of homeschool and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. The kids were pumped and had great attitudes. I am well aware that this is the honeymoon stage, but aren’t honeymoons wonderful?

The first thing that greeted them was a chalkboard with a message and a table with goodies (very practical homeschool supplies) for each child!

The next thing we did was take pictures. Even though they are homeschooling we got them all new clothes for the occasion and we had to get the traditional first day of school photos.

Elle is 4 years old and in PRE-K. I didn’t get a great pic of her by herself because I didn’t want to spend an hour on photos. Here she is though!

Ezie is 7 and in 2nd grade!

SJ is 10 years old and in 4th grade.

Z is 12 and in 7th grade. He actually will be enrolled in his public school online. He is still officially doing homeschool with us, but he has three classes in the morning that are accredited through our school district.

The kids are excited about this next chapter. I think it helps that their cousins who are some of their closest friends have always been homeschooled so they are familiar with the idea.

After photos we celebrated day one with another tradition- BREAKFAST! This year we had Mickey Mouse Waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, along with bacon, eggs, and OJ.

The main curriculum we are using is called Miacademy. This is how they will get individualized basic lessons in each of the core subjects along with some extras like typing, Bible, and Spanish. So far they love the setup.

We ate lunch in the treehouse and read from a chapter book. They also worked on worksheets for their specific grade level. I plan to do one main activity each day together as a family. Today was to create a poster that represented what we felt like our homeschool will be all about.

They decided to name our school “Busch Academy” and they drew pictures of things that interest them which mostly included rainbows, rockets, and chickens.

We ended the day with journaling about what they thought about the first day of Homeschool. Good news, they were all really into it.

All in all yesterday was very lowkey. I wanted to start off with dipping our toe in for day one. I talked to the kids about some rules, I made a sign to put on our door to alleviate interruptions, and we talked about the general schedule. J prayed over us and I explained to the kids about how this was going to be something that I was learning along with them. We discussed how things might change as we go and have a better understanding about what works and what doesn’t.

In 2012 I wrote a blog post called “Processing the Diagnosis“. It’s very emotional to look back on because it’s when we learned that SJ was deaf. That season is definitely one of the most challenging. In that blog post I said something that makes me choke up now, but also gives me so much hope as I find myself homeschooling my kids for the first time while living in an era of a historical pandemic. I said that while there are still a lot of unknowns and I am sure some days will be easier than others, we are handling all of it one step at a time. I compared it to a video of SJ’s first steps (there was a video in the original blog post here). The song I added to accompany the video says “We’ll learn together, you and I” and that pretty much sums it up then and now. This is new for all of us, but we are all going to learn how to do this together.

By | August 4th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Countdown To Homeschool!

In my last blog post I was mourning our departure from the public school district that we have known and loved for the past 7 years. No doubt this decision to homeschool wasn’t an easy one and I’m sure what lies ahead will be a challenge. I hear it can take weeks, months, or even a couple of years to “deschool” your children and find the right rhythm for homeschooling. Well, that really stinks for us because I don’t plan to homeschool for more than a year (although we all know by now that plans can change!).

I feel like I have realistic expectations for what homeschooling will be like. There will probably be tears, regret, and unmet expectations. On the other hand I am also very optomistic and looking forward to this adventure. Here are the top five things that make me giddy about homeschooling-

  1. Spending this time with my children

I know that sounds like such a cheesy saintly thing to proclaim after months of quarantine where so many parents are ready to throw their children out the window. Surely I must be a superior mom with perfectly well-behaved children. NOPE. I have my hands full (as strangers like to point out) and I too would love to get a break from the madness that is motherhood. However, as my children are getting older I feel the years slipping out of my grasp faster than they did before. J and I got our driver’s licenses renewed this week and they don’t expire for three years. Afterwards, he pointed out that next time we had to go to the DMV Z would be coming with us. At first, I didn’t get it. Then I realized he was talking about Z getting his driver’s license! The reality is, our children are growing up in the blink of an eye. “Sacrificing” my plans for a year to focus on them 24/7 is nothing. And God bless all the homeschool moms who do it all the time.

2. Flexible Schedule

I am starting our homeschool year this Monday. It’s three weeks earlier than the public school here, but I want to spread our breaks out more. I am really excited about extending our Christmas break from Thanksgiving to the New Year. I am also looking forward to potentially traveling during off-peak seasons and visiting places when they aren’t busy. Woo Hoo! Back in 2016 I wrote a blog post called “Summer and School” about why I am in favor of  year round learning.

Most people think that I’m crazy, but it’s how I have felt since my kids have been in school and now I actually get to implement it!

3. More Cleaning

I am not going to lie, as my kids have gotten older it’s been nice having more help around the house (see the blog post “Kids and Chores” for more details).

It’s tough to have kids wake up early, put in 7 hours at school, have extracurricular activities including church and then expect them to help out a lot around the house. Now that they are going to have all of their school work done in half the time, I am hoping to amp up the chores. Not anything crazy! I am planning to add some more in-depth cleaning and cooking to the chore list though. This isn’t  just for my sake, I promise! I think part of homeschool is learning valuable, practical life lessons like budgeting , grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning. So that is part of our “schooling” this year.

4. Fun subjects

The joy of homeschooling is also getting to teach things that really interest you and the kids. I am looking forward to diving into more sign language, Bible, art, and music as a family.

5. The Lesson of a Lifetime

I’m not going to downplay the pandemic and the lives lost or the impact it has had on jobs and families across the globe. It’s definitely not as simple as life gives you lemons, make lemonade. However, this is a very teachable moment for my children. Even though they have missed out on a lot they will certainly have a story to tell about what life was like during the coronavirus pandemic. I really hope that they’ll remember when mom and dad were faced with some crazy new challenges they didn’t cower in fear. They took the bull by the horns.

Our strategy through all of this has been to play offense, not defense.

In the past four months we got chickens, learned how to live stream church services, planted a garden, built a treehouse, and now we are learning to educate our children from home.

I saw a shirt the other day that read “Underestimate me. That’ll be fun”. I think I need that shirt and for the record, my strength comes from the Lord.

Homeschooling is not something I saw myself doing but I hope my children can learn from me. Yes, I hope they learn academically, but I also hope they feel empowered as they watch their old lady navigate uncharted territory.

They will see me struggle, because believe me I am not always crushing it. We keep looking to God for strength though and I’m trusting Him with homeschooling too.

In January I announced my word for the year– “Home”. When I committed for that to be my focus in 2020, I certainly did realize to what degree but He did. Homeschool here we come.

By | July 30th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Homeschooling for 20/21 School Year

I’ve been considering homeschooling since we started distance learning last March. I had a terrible experience with distance learning. To be clear. distance learning (or NTI, or online/virtual learning, or whatever you want to call it) are not the same as homeschool. Distance learning is when your child is enrolled in a public school and is doing all of the assignments remotely. Homeschooling is when you are the teacher and responsible for all aspects of your child’s education. One of the reasons distance learning doesn’t work for us is because I have four kids and a husband working at home. So imagine me trying to keep everything quiet while half the family is on a video call. It is a nightmare. I wrote about back when I was in the middle of all that.

I also already wrote about why I don’t want to do in-person learning. This is NOT to shame anyone who wants their kids in school and has no issues with social distancing, but it isn’t the best choice for us.

In the past, I have felt like our school had many benefits over what I could give them at home. I hear a lot of criticism towards public school because it is a rigid and outdated style of learning. I know some brick and mortar schools might be full of rows of desks with a teacher writing on a board and students memorizing and reciting information like robots. At our public school though, it is the total opposite of that and I have told our teachers how much I appreciate their approach to learning.

I would receive photos on the school app of my children daily and they were always either on their feet, outside, or sprawled out on the ground learning.

They were never in desks and never bored and disenchanted. This school is all about the tactile, kinesthetic, collaboration, imagination, nature, motion, friends-problem-solving, creating, building, hands-on, having fun while discovering!!! I wanted to share a hundred photos from this past year, but I narrowed it down. Their lessons are always super creative.  Is that awesome or what!? However, with the guidelines that are in place so much of that is going to change.

When I think of my kids being in an environment where their face is covered all day, as well as everyone around them it breaks my heart. No doubt this amazing group of teachers and staff will find creative ways to still ignite kids’ enthusiasm for learning but there are some ways their hands are tied. Day in and day out the children will be constantly encouraged to sanitize and discouraged from coming together which goes against our family’s philosophy on health and growth. In the pandemic public school, they can’t get into small groups, or play games together, or see smiles, or share crayons or a microscope. So that’s why I feel like I could serve them better at home for now.

Originally I wasn’t going to homeschool all of them. I was taking it one kid at a time.

First off Ezie, he’ll be in 2nd grade. I feel like he thrives in a school environment. He loves people. He works well with a teacher and not so much with me (when we did distance learning). He also is EXTREMELY physical. He notoriously hugs EVERYBODY. I’ve talked about this before. He has been called “Huggy Bear” since he was two years old. He had to make an “all-about-me” post for school last year and here are some of his answers-

I am special because- he wrote “I give hugs”

I help others by- “Making them feel better by hugging them”

For Favorite Book, he put “The Hug Machine”

He will tap your shoulder when he wants your attention. He wrestles and does secret handshakes with his friends. He stops during a school assignment to announce a “hug break”. Ironically this is the same reason I used to feel like homeschool wouldn’t be a good fit for him! We have friends and family that we are quarantining with, along with just having 5 other people in our home that I think he can meet his physical contact quota at home much more than in public school right now.

Then there is SJ.

Because she spent the first three years of her life without cochlear implants her little rapidly developing brain is hard-wired to read lips and facial expressions. Because of this, I am certainly worried that she would fall behind with facial coverings. There are some exemptions for teachers to wear shields when a child has special needs, but even then, that leaves the rest of the school with covered faces. I have hearing loss too and I know how hard it is to hear when the voice is muffled by a mask and then tack on being 6 feet away! It’s nearly impossible. I have had to tell many employees at stores when I’ve been out and about- I’m sorry I have hearing loss and I just don’t understand. So for SJ, I think she’ll have a better 4th grade year absorbing a lot more information at home. We are working on a scholarship that would still allow her to receive the services that she would have gotten from her IEP and I am really excited about that opportunity.

Lastly, there is Z.

We had fully planned on him starting his first year at Junior High in the school building. Then things started escalating with COVID and J and I thought, well at least he’ll have the online option and he can work from home. We really wanted him in school because he is starting accredited High School math and the grade is on his High School transcripts. However, when we found out that online learning would be sitting at a computer the entire school day and you are expected to be there joining in virtually the whole time. There was no flexibility and I understand why, but he wasn’t interested in that and neither were we. So we said no thank you.

This was not an easy choice at all. I love our school, teachers, and principal.  I almost cried yesterday when I filled out the decision form and had to check “my child will not be attending”. It’s a grieving process. I’m not mad at the school for doing what they feel has to be done or what is mandatory. I think they’ve done a phenomenal job navigating all of this! That’s part of what makes it harder for me. I feel like I’m betraying our beloved school that has served my children so well. It’s almost like a break up with someone you really care about, but you agree to take a break.

So that is a lot of words about all the heavy stuff that is on my heart. Maybe you’ve seen this graphic floating around.

That’s how I feel. Everyone has to make this very personal decision for themselves. This whole crazy unprecedented time is wearing on all of us. It’s not hopeless though. Next time I will write about why I am looking forward to this next season.

By | July 24th, 2020|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Chicks at 7 Weeks

It seems like seven weeks have just flown by! The once tiny fluffy chicks are halfway to adulthood already.

It’s hard to believe these tiny little chicken nuggets could fit in the palm of even the little kiddos hands not long ago.

Now they have all of their feathers and take two hands to hold. I try to grab them with one hand out of habit and then realize they are way too big for that.

Now that we have chicks (and a tree house and a zipline) we have visitors almost every day.

It’s like we’ve turned into the neighborhood petting zoo (with only one kind of animal, HA!) and I’m not even a little bit mad about.

 

 

 

 

Each one of the kids has really bonded with the chicks. At first, it was hard to tell who was who, but now we definitely know each one by name and they pretty much all have their own personality too!

Z named Zelda  (the grey bird in the pic) and if you know my gamer son then you know where that name derived from. Zelda is a Blue Rock from Mt. Healhy Hatchery.

Ezie named this bird White Stripes. There has been talk of changing her name because the bird is not striped or even a little bit white. Maybe the chick is a fan of the retro Jack White band? Anyway, she’s a golden Laced Wyandotte and despite her stuffy attitude, she is a keeper… at least for now.

 

Elle Is holding  “Bootsie” in this photo. Bootsie is a Buff Brahma and she is a doll! She’s so sweet and loves everybody.

In this photo I am holding “Penguin”. She used to look like a baby penguin when she first hatched.

She’s super scrawny and will probably only weigh four pounds when full grown. She’s a fun scrappy girl though. If there is a bug or worm around she WILL be the one to catch it. It never fails.

 

Lastly (for this blog post anyway) this is Sunshine on SJ’s head. She is a Buff Orpington. They are known for being friendly and she definitely is! Elle named her when she was a new chick. It seemed like a fitting name since she was all yellow, but now it’s fitting because she has such a sunny personality.

 

 

I  don’t want to make raising chickens sound like it’s all sunshine and nap time. We’ve loved the experience so far and when we had chicks in the past, however, it takes time and dedication. Once things get going the chicks mostly take care of themselves, but man the set up is a lot of work.

Since we are behind on finishing the coop and the run we have to “babysit” the chicks EVERY DAY. We can’t let them be totally  free range. In fact, we assured our neighbors the chicks wouldn’t just be wandering around in their yards. We also know that there are dogs and hawks during the day. Don’t even get me started on what’s running around at night, but we are trying to build a predator-proof home for our little ladies. Anway, it’s been fun taking care of the chicks, but having someone outside with them at all waking hours is NOT sustainable. Thank goodness my gorgeous hen house is almost finished!

They are sleeping in it at night now and when the run is done they can just carry on and go about their business from sun up to sundown. We have to finish it though.

 

We primed the outside today and my incredible husband is doing an amazing job on the whole thing.

He doesn’t do things halfway so we’re all in now! Despite all the hard work, I don’t regret the decision so far. We have conversations about whether or it was a bad idea. Then we discuss how crazy we must be, but in the end we always decide we are happy to have hens and they seem happy to have us.

By | July 16th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments