Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Our XC Camping Trip

About a month ago, I joined 3 other moms and 20 kids for a cross country team camping trip.  Members of our homeschool cross country/running club that completed at least 80% of their summer training were rewarded with a camping trip in Gatlinburg, TN!  

So, Heather planned and organized us all, and off we went.  An 8 hour road trip--all of us and all of our camping gear packed into four vehicles and one Uhaul trailer!  

 Outside Heather's house the morning we left--all packed and ready.  (It took us about an hour to pack everything!)

 After one stop for lunch, one stop for the mamas to get coffee, plus a few more bathroom stops, we finally made it to our destination!
Thankfully, Heather's mama and sister (and her 3 kids) were already there--and they had just ordered pizza for our hungry crew's super!  Yum!

 So happy to have finally arrived!

 They are happy too!

 We unloaded everything and got busy!  I have never camped in a tent before (actually, I have not camped since I was about 9 years old--with my grandparents in a camper).  Esther and Heather are tent camping experts, and Candice has experience in camping too (but only in a camper!).  Esther set up my tent for me.
We had two girl tents, one boy tent, and one tent for Leah, Sam, and me.

 The beginnings of our "camp kitchen".

Heather precooked all of our suppers!  Yay Heather!  We brought crock pots, and I made sure our dinner was in the crock pot to reheat each day by about 3:00 PM.  Heather packed four separate coolers--each cooler held each day's food--breakfast items, lunch items, fresh fruit, veggies, supper meal, etc.  She was so organized!

 The Uhaul.
The kids are setting up the tent for our camp kitchen.  We kept most of our kitchen stuff in the back of the Uhaul.  It really was a good set-up.

 Enjoying our first supper at camp--pizza!

 This is our camp kitchen, all set up and ready.
See the coffee pot? That was a very important item!

 This creek ran behind our tent area.  Sam and Hillary's kids spent most of their waking hours in this creek.  Wet.  Wet.  Wet.

 Our tents

 My tent.

 Another view of the kitchen.

 Hard-working boys.

 Sweet young ladies.
 Making smores around the campfire.

 This was taken on a 6 mile hike.
The older runners ran each morning and also did three (I think) hikes.  Sam and I did this one.  We did NOT do the 8 mile hike with them.

 Sam, on our hike.

 Julie-can't remember where this was!

 Having fun climbing on the rocks.

And then it rained.
And rained.
And rained.

Everything was wet.  Wet tents.  Wet bedding.  Wet clothes.  Wet everything.

 The doorway to my tent.

 Playing cards, trying to stay dry.

 The boys played lots of ping-pong.
Can you see the wet ping-pong table?
Wet.  Wet.  Wet.
Everything was wet.

 One night most of the tents leaked (it rained all night).  The next day we moved the tents to a dryer location, aired them out, and then covered the boys' tent with a huge tarp.
My tent stayed almost dry. 
It was just very, very damp.
Damp covers.  Damp clothes.

 But we still had SO MUCH FUN!
These girls are all smiles after an early morning run up the mountain.  Then we all enjoyed a picnic near a beautiful mountain stream.

 This was taken after we went white water rafting.
(Sam, Leah, and Hillary's daughter and I actually did a float trip in a much calmer part of the river).
Lots of fun!

One last group picture.

Many fun and special memories were made on this camping trip.  In spite of all of the rain, we really, really had a super time!  

We made it home a little bit quicker than going up there.  Upon our arrival, we had to completely set up our campsite in our backyard--tent, sleeping bags, camp chairs, etc.--to dry out everything.  And I had loads and loads and loads of clothes and bedding to wash.  I had to wash every single thing that we took--clean and dirty both--because everything was damp!  The next day, all of our stuff outside was finally dry......and then my completely dry tent blew into our pool!  And sunk.  

So Clay and I fished it out, and the drying process began all over again.

Two days after arriving home, I finally had all of the camping gear dried out and stored, and all of the clothes washed, dried, and put away.

And then we started school.

It was a fun way to end our summer vacation.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Using Apologia Science

Today I have a blog post at The Homeschool Classroom.  I described in detail how I organize my Apologia Science materials for grades 7-12.  This method has worked for me for many years, so I though I would share it!

I am learning A LOT about transitioning from homeschooler to full-time college student.  When I can get my thoughts together, I plan to blog some of the lessons Olivia and I have learned--and how I can better prepare my other children for this transition.  Poor Olivia!  Someone has to be the oldest though!

But for now, please click here if you want some high school homeschool organization advice!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

First Day of School Photos

I am still slowly but surely participating in the 5th Annual Not Back to School Blog Hop!
This week is Student Photo Week.






Our first day of school was August 5, but Olivia's first day of college was TODAY!  She had two classes today, and she has her other four classes tomorrow.  She seems to be adjusting well.  :)

Our school days are running pretty smoothly too--but the test will be when we begin our after school activities.  For us, that will be the first week in September.  

Have fun checking other families' back-to-school photos by visiting iHomeschoolNetwork.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Just Checking In

  • Homeschool:  We have completed 5 days of school since we began almost two weeks ago.  Jimmy was off a couple of days last week, and I have spent several days shopping and packing to get Olivia ready for college.  Even though we began school on August 5, I only budgeted 11 days of school for the month of August.  We have had and will continue to have a very busy month of August with Olivia going off to college, but I figured that doing 11 days of school in August would be better than beginning after Labor Day.  So we are getting our first lessons done, little by little.  That is one of the beauties of homeschool--we get to set our schedule!
  • Running: Well, my goals for the Tupelo 14.2 Mile Race have changed from a time goal (8:30 pace) to the goal of finishing in time to get ready for teaching Sunday school--completely doable or I would not even sign up for this race.  It begins at 5:00 AM, and the finish line is 20 minutes away from my house.  My running has been sporadic the last month.  In fact, the long run is the only one I have been able to get in on some weeks!  I did run 3 times this week.
  • Homemaking:  I am trying to keep up with the minimum housework and all of the laundry, but I have had no time for extra projects.  No sewing.  No cleaning out or organizing of closets or drawers. No trying of new recipes.  But it's ok!  It's just a season.  A season of doing the bare minimum and trying to keep a good attitude about it all.  I remind myself frequently, thanksgiving produces joy, and there is always plenty to be thankful for.
  • Bible Study:  I am working on a surprise project for someone in my family. I will share when I am done.....I am still copying Scripture, about 1/2-1 chapter per day, and then outlining the chapter when I am done.  I also take notes while copying when I so desire.
All summer I have purposed to blog on a regular basis, but this summer has been a blur and has rapidly slipped away!  Hopefully, September will be calmer and I can get back to my regular blogging.  But, also in September I will begin training for my 5th marathon--St. Jude.  (When will I learn?) This month I have to decide whether or not I will accept the invitation to run the Boston Marathon again (next April) since I was unable to finish due to the bombings.  I am back and forth on what I want to do, but I am definitely leaning toward running it, and that being my last marathon for awhile!!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Our Schoolroom

This week in the Not Back to School Blog Hop features school rooms!

My schoolroom looks pretty much the same that it has looked for the past 8 school years.  I did have it repainted this summer--in the very same color of blue.  I considered rearranging some of the furniture, but after moving the piano across the room, I moved it back.  I like the way it is arranged now.  I did swap the locations of two pictures on the wall.

I took these pictures tonight, just before we unloaded my car full of college stuff for Olivia into the schoolroom.  (For sorting and packing....) These pictures show what my schoolroom really looks like on any given day.  We try to tidy up each day after completing our schoolwork, but some things inevitably get left out.

I am so thankful that I have a room dedicated to our homeschooling.  However, this is not the only room that we do school in.  It is the place where I store all of our school supplies and materials, plus lots of craft items.  This room is a finished room in our basement, and it has a half bathroom and two closets.  One of the closets is small, and I keep paper, office and science supplies in it.  The other closet is a walk-in closet and it stores many, many plastic containers of school stuff.  My schoolroom has one door that opens into the foyer area of our basement, and another door that opens into my storage room. (I closed that door for the photos tonight!)

We also do school in other areas of our home.  We have our Bible lesson each day at our kitchen table. Julie does her American history upstairs at a desk near her room.  All three of the older children watch their IEW DVDs in our den.  Julie also has a desk in the schoolroom, and so does Clay.  Leah and Sam complete their daily seat work at the table in our schoolroom, but I read all of their Sonlight books in our our den.  And lastly, we listen to many audiobooks for school in our car!

And now.....the pictures!

 The back wall of the schoolroom

Olivia's college school supplies are on the counter, along with my printer, Cricut, and dehydrator.
I keep various craft activities and supplies in the lower cabinets.  The filing drawers hold both household and school files.  The upper cabinets hold schoolbooks that are not currently being used, and one cabinet is dedicated to holding painting supplies.

 The right side

This pictures shows Julie's desk and a desk that I sometimes sit at.  I like to come down here where it is quiet and do my personal Bible reading in the morning.  A copier sits on this desk along with pretty knick knacks the kids have made for me.
The tall bookshelf holds mostly Sonlight books.

 Another view of this wall.  

I decorated the door (words that Sam needs to learn to spell) since we always keep this door open.  This is the door that leads to the foyer.
 The front wall of the schoolroom

The door leads to the walk in closet.  Underneath the marker board is a shelf with more Sonlight books and Notgrass high school books.  The tall cabinet in the right hand corner holds paper, glue, markers, index cards, etc.

 An overview of the middle of the room. 

Sam sits on one side, Leah on the other, and I sit in the middle on the end.  Their schoolbooks are inside those black crates.
That shelf to the left of the piano holds even more Sonlight books. (I now own all cores from Pre3/4-Core 100 plus selected books from the rest of the upper cores).

 A close up of the "teacher desk" and Julie's desk to the left.  

The binders on the right are my teacher binders.  Julie's books and pencils and such are all on the left.

 An overview of the room from the back side.

Clay's desk.

His books are in the green crate on the floor.
This is exactly what his desk looked like....I guess he forgot to tidy up!

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my schoolroom.
If you want to see more schoolrooms or areas in which people homeschool, please click here.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Quinoa Salad

***This recipe is adapted from the recipe for "Ensalada Azteca" from The China Study Cookbook.***

Quinoa Salad

2 cans organic black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 small sweet onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 large tomato, diced
2 avocados, diced
3 ears fresh corn, cooked and cut off the cob
1/2 mango, diced
1 jalapeƱo, diced
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

The Dressing

juice from 1 lime
1/2 mango, diced
1 TBS agave nectar
salt to taste

Mix salad ingredients gently to combine.  Place dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.  Toss gently with salad.  Salt to taste.
Serve immediately, or refrigerate for later.

I am taking this salad and pesto bow tie pasta to our family Bible study at Lynn's house tonight.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Our 2013-2014 Homeschool Curriculum

This year in our homeschool we have students in grades 2,4,9, and 11. This is my 13th year to homeschool, and now that Olivia has graduated, I have only four students. Still, it's a full load!

Here is the line-up:

11th Grade (Julie)
  • Algebra 2/Geometry (Saxon)
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology (Apologia)
  • Spanish 2 (Rosetta Stone)
  • American History (Sonlight Core 100)
  • English 3 (Institute For Excellence in Writing, SICC Level C), Daily Grams, Wordly Wise 11
  • Bible
  • P.E. (Running)
  • Logic (Mindbenders, Analogies)
  • Home Economics 3
9th Grade (Clay)
  • Algebra 1/Geometry (Saxon)
  • Biology with Lab (Apologia)
  • World Geography (Around the World in 180 Days, modified)
  • MS History (teacher-created research project)
  • English 1 (Institute For Excellence in Writing, SID Level C), Daily Grams, Easy Grammar, Wordly Wise 8, Introduction to Literature (Bob Jones)
  • Computer Literacy (teacher-created--Pages, Keynote, Numbers)
  • Bible
  • P.E. (Running)
  • Logic (Mindbenders)
  • Shop 1
4th Grade (Leah)
  • Math (Horizons 4)
  • Institute For Excellence in Writing (SID A)
  • Spelling (The Natural Speller)
  • Wordly Wise 3
  • Daily Grams
  • Easy Grammar
  • Cursive (A Reason For Writing)
  • Building Thinking Skills
  • Spanish (Rosetta Stone-2 days per week)
  • Typing (Mavis Beacon--2 days per week)
  • Science (Apologia Zoology 5th Day--Ocean Animals)
  • Sonlight Core C, D/E (We have 6 weeks left in Core C, then we will begin Core D/E.)
2nd Grade (Sam)
  • Math (Horizons 2)
  • Spelling (The Natural Speller)
  • Phonics (Explode the Code Books 4-6--maybe stop at 5 if he is reading fluently)
  • Wordly Wise A
  • Daily Grams 2/3
  • Handwriting (A Reason For Writing)
  • Building Thinking Skills
  • Journal writing
  • Science (Apologia Zoology 5th Day--Ocean Animals)
  • Sonlight Core A, B (We have 6 weeks left in Core A, then we will begin Core B.)

This is my first year to participate in the Not Back to School Blog Hop. This week's link-up is curriculum. You may enjoy visiting this link and seeing hundreds of examples of other homeschoolers' curriculum.  

Saturday, August 3, 2013

4 Moms, 20 Kids: Tent Camping!

Our Campsite

This was my first experience in tent camping!  We had so much fun this week, and I have several pictures to share!  Today, though, I will busy, busy packing up our tent, chairs, blow up beds, etc. (we had to set it all up last night when we got home to dry out---we had lots of RAIN while we were camping, and everything was wet or damp), unpacking lots and lots of bags, and washing, washing, washing clothes, bags, shoes, etc.  Everything and I mean everything, was damp, and I have to wash and dry it all.

But it is worth it, because we had such a fabulous time.

And.  We are starting school Monday!  

I have a lot to do today.

Friday, August 2, 2013

My Homeschool Day Schedule

I know in the homeschooling world that there are various types of mothers/teachers out there.  Some of you are Type A--organized and scheduled, and generally on top of things.  Some of you are "go with the flow", and you don't get stressed if you don't get all of your schoolwork done each day.  And some of you are somewhere in between!  Those of you who know me personally would probably say that I am Type A, but homeschooling five children and life in general has forced me to become more flexible.

However, I still cannot function without a schedule.  A framework for our days.  The order of the day and each day's routine brings stability to our otherwise hectic homeschool days.  I am NOT a slave to my school schedule.  It is my tool.  It keeps us on track and allows us to get way more accomplished each week than if I just did whatever.  

That all being said, I spent many hours last week working on my 2013 fall school schedule.  The spring schedule will look similar, but we take a break from cross country practice from November to about late March, and I have more time for schoolwork during those months.

Even though I have only 4 students to schedule this year, I believe that this year will prove to be one of my more challenging ones.  My older two children do most of their schoolwork independently, but I am teaching each one of them math this year.  I am allowing 1 hour for each of those math sessions, but I am predicting that 45 minutes will be enough.  That gives me a little bit of margin for mishaps, etc.  

I am also using IEW video instructional courses for Leah, Clay, and Julie, and once every two weeks I will need to watch the 30-45 minute DVD with each child.  I have scheduled their "weeks" to begin on different days of the week so I won't be watching 3 DVDs in one day!  On the other 8-10 days between DVDs, I will help them individually as needed on some days, and on other days I have scheduled a 1 hour block of time to help all three of them at the same time with their current writing assignments.  Again, I doubt it will take an hour, but I wanted to build in some margin.

Please don't laugh at my schedules!  I know that if I don't make a plan, we will flounder and waste lots of valuable time!

Here is how I did it.  I used my scheduling kit that I bought about 13 years ago from  It is included in Teri Maxwell's book, Managers of Their Homes, which I highly recommend.

First I wrote down what I needed to be doing each day.  Then I filled out a similar sheet for each child. The numbers in the far right columns tell how long I predict each activity will take (in minutes).  When I finished my rough draft, I had 11 hours of stuff!  I had to go back and mark some things out and combine other activities. 

 a rough draft of my activity sheet

Next I wrote with a pencil each activity on a colored square (30 minutes) or rectangle (1 hour).  We each have a different color.  This step is very important!  It is like putting a puzzle together.  You can visualize your day.  This prevents you from having a child practice the piano in the same room and at the same time that you are listening to your beginning reader read aloud!
The kit includes sticky tak to stick the squares down on the master schedule sheets, but my sticky tak was missing!  So I used tape.  But you do have to stick the papers down or they will fly away!  That is frustrating, trust me.

 The colored squares---they were moved many times to make the day fit together like a puzzle.

 My final "rough draft"

 Pink:  Mama
Yellow:  Julie
Green:  Clay
Blue:  Leah
Red:  Sam

Next came the fun part!  Ha!  Not really---my days are all different because of various outside the home activities.  We have piano lessons on Mondays, art for Leah, Sam, and Julie two different days (but only 10 days for the whole year--every other week for 10 weeks in the fall and again in the spring), XC practice twice a week August-November, XC practice once a week March-May, and Clay will be doing a science class once a week.

So I made 7, yes 7 different schedules!

 I referred to my master schedule (the colored square one) while tweaking each day.

My Seven Schedules:
  1. Monday (piano)
  2. Tuesday--no art
  3. Tuesday--Leah and Sam art
  4. Wednesday-no art
  5. Wednesday--Julie art
  6. Thursday (science)
  7. Friday (thankfully, nothing extra!)
Believe it or not, I worked it all out!  I am not doing science every day with Leah and Sam, but on Wednesdays when Julie is at art and Thursdays, they have an extra time slot for science. Also on some days I will have to check Julie's and Clay's schoolwork at night (not my preference), but that is ok too.  I scheduled my days, but I had to be flexible in my preferences.

 Some of the schedules

 Maybe you can read this one better

I typed up all 7 schedules.  Each day fits on one page.  After we actually do school for a couple of weeks, I will tweak these schedules.  Then I will laminate them and hang them up somewhere.  But first, I will be taking notes as we do school--seeing where I have extra time or not enough time or finding out if something just absolutely will not work.

It is a work in progress.  I will share an update after we get all of the kinks worked out.