Saturday, August 20, 2016

School's in session

Choo choo!  All about the learning express!  Feeling fairly settled in after our move, today the kids and I began our official journey into 2nd and 5th grade.  We kept a bit of schooling going all summer to keep brain atrophy from setting in.  But today we took a swing at all 4 subjects for both kids. With this being our 5th year of homeschool, I’ve learned (the hard way) to keep expectations low and to-do lists lower.  I’m hopeful that several of the things we’ll be doing this year will lead to simplification and a more productive and peaceful year.  First, we’re sticking with our favorite math curriculum - Math-U-See.  Some how we lucked out that the same curriculum works well for both our kids - even though they’re of differing genders.  I’ve heard this is not always the case.  Second, I’ll be teaching them together in the subjects of science (as we did last year) and history.  With a three year spread between them and both of them reading well beyond their grade level, this works nicely for the two of them and is a huge time-saver for me. 

Lastly, we’re taking a new approach to language arts by switching to Shirley English, digital edition.   For as much as I looooove to read and write, I have also discovered that I looooooooath teaching language arts.  Loathe. It.  What we were using before (good stuff from Peacehill press…great curriculum, nothing inherently wrong with it) was making us want to pluck our eyelashes out, slash our wrists, and beat ourselves with chains.  Okay, maybe that’s a little over-dramatized.  But we were not loving life in the language arts arena.  I longed for a (free) tutor that would whisk my children away to pour into them the finer points of English and language arts.  But then I woke up.  Shirley English, digital edition, seems like the next best thing.  We’ll trial it out and I’ll let you know. :-)

This first day was full of fun and surprises.  Our son was able to articulate his long term goals for his life.  And they were hilarious.  To me.  Our daughter, bless her heart, had a rumbly tummy all day which made for some interesting sounds and smells.  And she still managed to ace her math test.  As we rounded the corner to close out our day, nearly at dinner time, I was reminded of what a privilege it is to stay at home and prepare my children for their place in the kingdom of God on earth.  

Here are a few other things we’re excited for this year:

Overdrive access through our local library district - so many titles to choose, books available in print and audiobook formats, for a variety of platforms!

Weekly Homeschool Academy - a public school district in our area offers a one-day-a-week program for homeschoolers to enrich and enhance what they’re already learning at home.  8:15am - 3:15pm…we’ll see if these 2 homeschoolers can hack it!

Zoo membership - with a zoo merely 20 minutes from our home, why not take advantage!  We’ll use these field trips to further our science curriculum for the year, Apologia’s Zoology 3 (land animals)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The beauty of Colorado...and a birthday!

Three weeks have passed since our arrival to Colorado - but BOY does it feel like longer than that.  All the hard labor of unpacking and settling in has made time feel sluggish.  Slowly our home has evolved within the walls of this house.  We are now fully unpacked ( know, there's always a box or two you never unpack!) and have begun enjoying the beauty that Colorado has to offer.  The state motto is "Colorful Colorado" and that's a perfect description.

Welcome to our Colorado home!

On our street alone we can see the mountains from one end and the wide-open prairie from the other end.  The rooms on the back of our home have a view of Pike's Peak - which can also be seen by anyone jumping on the trampoline at the apex of their jump!  On one of our first family walk outings, we discovered numerous scrawling trails criss-crossing the land behind our home.  And around one bend we saw a doe and her fawn.  

The doe and her (not-so-visible) fawn

We also hit the trail on our bikes last weekend and rode next to a stream that led to a nature preserve.  The stream was swift and the sights were all beautifully framed beneath the Rocky Mountains.  The climate is very tolerable here and the lack of humidity helps 93° not feel like 93°.  The trail was made of packed dirt with pea gravel atop it and all was well until a certain little girl's bike tire inner tube decided the gravel was too much for it.  So we walked back to the trailhead and headed home.

Our new neighborhood and it's criss-crossing gravel trails have afforded us the opportunity to take our go-kart out for some epic spins.  And I mean spins! Our son is ecstatic for this - since living on post before meant no go-karts on the streets.

And in the midst of all this fun, we celebrated a birthday! Our sweet little girl turned 7.  How did we go from this... this in so little time?!  I'll never understand it!

She is a cat lover trapped in a dog household, so for her birthday she wished for cat "things".  And when your family already has 2 dogs and your daddy is allergic to cats, you get cat "things". Not a kitten.

Hubby has his "boots on the ground" at his unit and is surveying the companies along with what his job will entail with this unit's specialties and tempo.  It's a good thing he's already well acclimated to this altitude - he's put in 9 miles of running with soldiers already!  At 6,400 feet above sea level, running is no joke!

I'm still on sabbatical in my Facebook blackout (#nohashtags) and very content!  The only things that have pushed me remotely close to reactivating my account are desiring information about some of the things we want to plug into here in Colorado.  But so far I've found other ways to get that info.  Once I got passed the first couple of weeks, an internal calm settled in and hasn't left.  There's a peacefulness that can't be described unless one experiences the hush of no hashtags.

For now I'll leave you with a few more pictures of the beauty of this state...

The mountains at one end of our street
The prairie at the other end

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Fun on the 4th with family

Belated pics of our family's fun 4th celebration, complete with a trip to Six Flags over GA, The Dwarf House, Fireworks, a 5K, and a patriotic church service ! 'Merica!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Day 7 (and more of day 6!)

Seeing such beautiful countryside as we drove made the photographer in me want to jump out and take pictures.  So I did the next best thing - I grabbed my camera and took drive-byes!

Field in Kansas.  Made me think about amber waves of grain.

One of the millions(?) of windmills in Kansas.

A neat A&W we stopped at for lunch in Russell, KS

We finished up our journey west today, stopping only for gas, lunch, and a quick picture at the state line.  Such a unique state line sign!

One special memory on this day was seeing the mountains slowly come into view on the horizon.  The kids were so excited to finally see them!  And their new home!  After receiving the keys and doing a walk-through of the home (picking out rooms, figuring out furniture), we went out for Chic-fil-a and grabbed some groceries. We'd anticipated staying one more night in the camper with it parked in the driveway, but the drive was juuuuust a little too steep to get the camper level.  So, we made pallets and slept on the floor inside the house.  The kids had a "sleep-over" in J's room and were thoroughly exhausted.  For me there was a mixture of emotions and thoughts.  This new home was a good one with plenty of space for our things and for us to spread out and be comfortable, but it wasn't  MY home.  It felt like we were supposed to be here but it still felt foreign.  Having felt this way many times before, I knew this was normal.  It takes time to adjust to a new living space.

Over the next several weeks we unpacked and settled and made the place feel like home to us.  The kids were troopers when it came to unpacking and patiently giving Mommy & Daddy time to set up house!  And their dreams came true (with the help of their hard-earned money) when we got the trampoline they'd been longing for put up in the backyard.  One of my favorite spaces in this home is the fireplace room.  It's a great space to read, relax, and look out into the backyard.  We have a view of the mountains to our west and a view of the Blue Stern prairie to our east.  This is truly such a beautiful region of the country!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Day 6

Today we moseyed on through Kansas and made it nearly to its western border.  So often we've heard of the sheer boredom that ensues when one drives through Kansas - nothing to see and nothing to do. Nothing but prairie, and cattle, and oil wells.  We found the scenery to be peaceful and refreshing.  We marveled at the flat land and how fiercely the wind whipped through the prairie.  I think the thing that made it the most enjoyable was doing the long drive over the course of two days. 

We stopped for the night in a place called Goodland, Kansas at a KOA camping site called Goodland KOA.  It was a very clean, well-kept campground and offered many amenities.  We parked the camper, set 'er up, and went for a dip in the pool.  And our sweet li'l girl did her first underwater handstand at that very pool!  As for our nightlife that evening, our beagle ended up getting into some dog medication and ate not two or three but FIFTEEN pills!  So while the kids were sleeping, hubby and I were outside giving beagle peroxide to help oust what he'd put in.  Not fun.  And neither was the middle-of-the-night "code brown" that ensued in the camper after he tried to O.D. on those pills.  {Ahem}  Next morning we awoke with excitement yet sadness on our hearts.  Excitement that we'd be making it to our final destination that very day, but sadness that our epic camper journey was coming to a close.  The next place we'd park the Pioneer Wagon would be our new driveway! 

 A neat gas stop in Kansas


Goodland KOA

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Day 5

Day 5
We made our way into Kansas today. We counted RVs and campers as an in-car game to pass the time.  And we got over halfway to our goal of finding all 50 states' license plates. Our stopping place for the night was a campground in Paxico, KS -- Millcreek Campground.  The town of Paxico and this campground are a throwback to yesteryear, when the railroad was king.  We got to explore an old decommissioned train station with a telegraph and its poles still standing. We lingered over the nearby fencing to get an up close look as a train nearly a mile long powered down the track just a few feet away. The ground rumbled beneath our feet and the conductor honored our request to blow his whistle as he passed.  The kids delighted in all these things from long ago, reveling in them with the fascination that comes from novelty. The 6 of us, dogs and all, eased down an embankment to the creek, which lends its name to the campground, and stuck our toes and paws in the cool water flowing by gently. A relief from the day's oppressive heat! And before heading back in we took turns on the teeter totter and merry-go-round on the playground. Hubby hung up a sheet in the camper and using his projector we watched "Evan Almighty" to complete our ark encounter.  Fun ending to an awesome day! 

One thing we’re doing to combat boredom and sibling rivalry is audiobooks, and a little bit of school work, as we go.  I brought a couple of subjects that are "weak points" for us, so we can sharpen up and not loose learning ground.  It doesn't exactly make me the most popular person in the vehicle, but hey - I'm the mom, not the best friend!  For audiobooks, here is our list we chose for this trip:

We also tuned into some podcasts of our favorite speakers and preachers.  This all led to several excellent conversations and in many ways I felt we learned more on-the-go than any day in the classroom!