home school

Gah!  It seems MORE than a month has gone by since I last updated the ol’ blog.  What a time it was too.  The whirlwind of the end of the school year.  Last week we had our last day at the tutorial followed by their year end assembly. 

Wahoo!!!  All those snow days we kept our nose to the grind stone are paying off now baby! 

I was so proud as I watched them get up front and recite all of the things they had memorized.  Latin endings, history time lines, science jingles…. “Yes,” I thought… “They got it!  The DID learn something this year.”  It was a moment of triumph for me as mom and teacher.   And one I did my best to savor.  Because after enduring all of the whining and tears and frustration and “do I have to”  it was wonderful to see the fruits of our labor.  Today we completed the very last step of the school year, our year end evaluation with the county school board.  So we lugged in our suitcases full of binders and did our best to convey to the reviewer in a short amount of time all the work we had accomplished this year.  They deemed us compliant and we left to check out some library books.  As I walked away I realized all the things I didn’t show them, but they didn’t require it anyway and I realized that there really is no way to full convey all we learned and how we’ve grown this school year. 

But, in my heart I know.  And truthfully, I’ve seen it play out in these first few weeks of summer vacation.  As we’ve settled into our summer routine and kept up with the reading and math assignments I want them to continue over the summer, I can see growth and maturity.  They no longer need summer reading incentives.   They eagerly write and mail letters and e-mails to their friends… putting their knowledge to use.  The other night one of them asked if they could keep a journal this summer.  YES!  YES!  This is what I love to see!  I direct the learning all school year, but for the summer, to see kid directed learning is a joy to my mother/teacher heart.   This is one of the things I love most about homeschooling. 

We spent our first week of summer break trying to organize the house and establish some summertime routines.  Memorial Day weekend felt like an official kick off to summer… full of watermelon, swimming, camp outs, whiffle ball, cousins, grandparents, and friends. 


This year in History we are studying American History from the explorers to the war on 1812.  I love history.  It is my favorite part of home schooling.  And I am so grateful that we live within driving distance of so many great historical sites. 

I really wanted to take the kids to Philadelphia  for a day trip over spring break.    Scott graciously rearranged his work schedule so that he could join us.  (because he is the best ever)…. I love day trips with the family.  It was such a relaxing, low key day.  We left the house a little before 9 am and were home just before 9:30.  We saw all that I wanted us to see and had an enjoyable dinner in historic Philadelphia. IMG_1827

I know I mentioned it this summer, but I gotta say it again.  The Junior Ranger programs that the US National Parks do is just fabulous.  Especially for elementary age kids.  It gives them something to do while waiting in line.  It teaches them a thing or two and keeps them engaged.  I love it.  This year the Historical Parks also added trading cards.   Anytime a kid sees a park ranger they can ask for a trading card.  The rangers will give them a card after answering a trivia question.   They made the questions age appropriate… for my 3 year old they would pretty much accept the answer “Philadelphia” to almost any question.  Smile  The older ones had to work a little harder for it… but what they didn’t know is they were learning more information in the process.  (sneaky rangers)  My kids LOVED this!



We visited the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the US Mint.  It was really interesting to learn the history of our currency and to watch money being made right before our eyes.  (sadly we weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside of the US Mint).  We saw several historical paintings, saw the actual chair George Washington sat in at the Continental Congress and stood in the room where the founding fathers signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  We even ate dinner in the building where our forefathers ate and met years ago.  We learned about Ben Franklin’s printing shop, and watched how the printing press worked.  Then we visited the original Post Office and mailed ourselves an envelope so we could have it hand stamped with Ben Franklin’s post office stamp. IMG_1787


I was more than a little awestruck by the history.  History makes me so reflective and contemplative.  Would I be able to do what they did?  Would I be able to risk my life, my family’s life and our well being for the good of our country?  After watching a movie at the visitor center we asked the kids which side they think they would have sided with.  My 9 year old very wisely answered, “I really don’t know because I haven’t been through what they had been through.”  If I am honest, I don’t know either, but I do know that I am grateful for the wisdom, bravery, and sacrifices made by our founding fathers. 


This week I took my girls on a field trip with their classmates from our tutorial.  We visited a Science Center run by the local school system.   The kids learned how to observe the world around them and record those observations.  They studied bugs and wild life found in our area as well as learned about camouflage and even played a game to reinforce the concept.

They got to use almost all of their senses.  It was such a nice treat for them to skip book work for a day.

But, truthfully, my most favorite part happened today. 

Today I sent them all outside for recess.    And the girls decided they were going to be scientists.  They backed their bags with clipboards and paper, got some binoculars and hopped on their bikes to observe the world around them. IMG_1051

When they came in for lunch, I asked them what they founds.  “3 birds, a squirrel, and 2 earthworm habitats.”

I loved watching them practice in play what they did on their field trip the other day.  I loved that they found science so entertaining they would choose to spend their playtime engaging in it.  And I love that they are scientists.  Check out what they wrote on the driveway in sidewalk chalk.


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When we switched out history curriculum this year so that the whole family studies the same period of history (with varying level of work catered to their age level), one of the reasons I was MOST excited was that our field trips would be applicable to all. 

When our tutorial gave off for Presidents Day, I was eager to take advantage of the day free of book work to go on a field trip.  Being Presidents Day, I did a search for some American Revolution themed activities not far from us.  And I found out that Valley Forge scheduled several special activities in honor of Presidents Day.  In fact, I know there are other days when they hold special events, but I really think Presidents Day was the perfect day to visit the park, because there was so much going on.  To make the day even better, we got to to go as an entire family. 

It was a little over a two hour drive from our house.  We left around 9 am and got there in time to enlist in the Contintental Army, meet the General and his wife and practice some weaving before the General’s birthday party. IMG_0369



After he cut the cake, we headed out for our military training. 


The General made a special appearance here as well to inspect his troops and inspire them with a moving speech.  My three year old loved pumping his fist in the air and shouting, “Hip Hip Huzzah!” 

military training

We ate our lunch in the van while we drove around the grounds.  It was larger than we realized.  Then we got to watch a weapon demonstration (a highlight for our boys) and then go inside of a replica soldiers hut where someone was dressed in period costume and answered our many, many questions.  IMG_0469


It was a perfect day.  The sun was shining on the snow covered fields.  There was a brisk chill in the air which helped us sympathize with the troops.  I think we all took something away from the experience and enjoyed the time together as a family.  On our drive home our three year old said, “Today was just like bacation!” 


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My own paraphrase of a very busy 30 minute period of time here at the circus on our first day back at school at home, based on the “If you give a….” book series.  There is no embellishment here.  This is how it really went down at the circus house this morning.

If you give a mom a minute, she’ll sneak a peak at facebook.

And when she sneaks a peak at facebook, she’ll see one of her friends posted a crock pot recipe.  This will remind her that she needs to put her own dinner in the crock pot.

As she gets out the crock pot, she will see the flour and looking at the clock, she will realize she should start lunch prep soon.

As she pulls out the flour to make waffles, she will see a box of pretzels.

The pretzels will remind her that she wanted to finish a conversation with her daughter from last night.

She leaves the room to talk one on one with her daughter and as she’s talking she will suddenly hear her 3 year old crying and screaming for Mommy and Daddy.

This will cause her to rush to the bathroom to see what is wrong with her 3 year old.

When she goes to the bathroom she will see the toilet overflowing on to the floor.

When she sees the toilet overflowing she will immediately shut the toilet off and call for the other kids to quickly grab towels and a plunger.

While she waits for the towels and plunger she will calm the scared three year old and take the opportunity to let him know that if you flush the toilet once and it doesn’t work, you should not flush again.

The other children will bring down the towels and plunger.  When they do, you will mop up the floor and plunge the toilet.   This will create wet towels.

When you have wet towels, you will take them down to the washing machine.  When you go down to the washing machine you will remember to switch the clothes and start a load.  Your daughter will follow you downstairs.

When your daughter follows you downstairs you will continue with the conversation from earlier.

After finishing the conversation, you will go upstairs to wash your hands.

When you go to the kitchen to wash your hands, you will hear your phone chime with a text from your husband saying he’s coming home for lunch.

When you read the text from your husband, you’ll remember the flour you got out earlier and go back to making waffles for lunch.

When you make waffles for lunch, your family will eat them.

When your family eats the waffles, you will tell them the story of your morning.  When your tell your husband  about your morning, he will suggest you write a blog post about it.

When you finish school and write a blog post about your morning, you will probably post it to facebook.



I haven’t had time to really update the blog lately.  In fact, I have found my days to be quite full now that we are in full swing with our school and extra curricular activities.  Bursting at the seams full. 

But, I have whipped the camera out a few times, so I decided today to download them and at least try to preserve some memories of everyday life around here.

Football is a big time favorite past time around here.  The kids love making plays and having their own games in the backyard… the tee ball stand and folding chair are their yard markers.  They take turns being defenders and wide receivers and quarter back.  Sometimes they even do a running play or two with a RB.


We’ve had a lot of “wildlife” visitors round here…  We also have a turtle that lives in our yard and makes an appearance from time to time.  Today we decided to name Percy. We have also spotted a green snake (eeww).  Check out the praying mantis on our front door.


Wendy and Cartwheel have fully immersed themselves into our family. They are an active part of each of our days and participants in our homeschooling as well.

The cat is so patient.  Tolerating snuggles and love. She also patiently listens to math flashcard lessons and read alouds.



Wendy also sits patiently through school lessons. Either by our side or at our feet.


And sometimes they both sit with us.


Sisters working together on math… love the random costumes that pop into our school days.



I have to say, I am liking our rhythm of life these days.  It’s busy.  But fun.