School Stuff and the Universe at Work

Some big changes are happening around here… AGAIN.

As the universe moves and shifts opportunities sometimes arise that make you look at your choices a bit more closely.

This summer, while Ezra and I were on vacation on the Cape, I received a text message from a friend of mine who runs a local private school.  I had been working on a community project with her during that time and she knew a little about our homeschooling and had grown to know a little about Ezra.  In the text, she stated that there was one partial scholarship available at the school left for the 5th grade class.

It hit me hard.  Was the universe trying to tell me that Ezra needed this opportunity?  I had so much respect for this woman, this teacher, but the thought of sending Ezra to private school never really was allowed because the options in the area were mostly religious or like her school was very expensive.  The thought of a partial scholarship for him meant we may be able to send him there for 5th grade?!!!

The wheels turned and we discussed with with Ezra’s father, our family and with Ezra.  We toured the school and it was like a dream!  This school was exactly what Ezra was needing!

So our big announcement is that Ezra will be attending a lovely private school this year for 5th grade.  We are so excited about the school community, the curriculum (Spanish, yoga, guitar, business!!!).

Since we will be paying tuition for Ezra to attend the school I will be working a bit more at the store helping my husband and keeping our home flowing, which means Lucas will be starting Kindergarten!  I am so excited to see how he grows!  He is very excited about his new big boy school, especially art class he says.

I have to admit, I was in mourning a bit about letting go of our homeschool.  I learned so much about my children in the year we spent schooling together and I loved having the time with them.  You never know, we may end up homeschooling again down the road, but for now we are on the path to school.  What doesn’t bend breaks I say and I knew that I had to look at something the universe was trying to put in my child’s path rather than get stuck on my personal desire for our homeschool dreams.

I will of course share how it is going and how the boys are thriving.  It is going to be a big year!

Thank you, universe, friends, family for supporting us on this journey.  Our journey bends and flows as we parent these beautiful boys and I like to think that we are following the path that is laid out for us!

Keeping Flies Away From Food with Lavender

August is the time of year that for us seems to be when the flies are everywhere.

fly away jars

I found this quick and easy trick to keep them away from your food buffet or tables when you are having an outdoor eat out (or indoor if they are bugging you indoors for that matter.

lavender to keep flies away

Simply take a small mason jar, cut an inexpensive sponge to fit inside of the jar.  Now put about 20 drops of lavender essential oil on the sponge and a tablespoon of water.  Close up the jar and let it sit overnight so that the oil will really permeate the sponge.

how to keep flies away

When you are ready to serve your food just open your jars and set on tables.  It really did do the trick.  I am not saying there were not any flies, it is August, but they didn’t seem to swarm and linger around our food!

Hope you give it a shot.

If you are interested in trying DoTerra oils let me know!  I am very impressed with the purity and potency of them.  Or check out their site HERE.

Cherry Lemonade

My parents have beautiful Nanking Cherry bushes at thier home that they use as a privacy barrier between neighbors.  We love to go at the end of June and pluck bags of them off of the bush and make syrup with it.

First you fill a pot with them and top with enough water to just cover the cherries.  Boil until the cherries are soft and mushy.  {I followed these directions and it came out great}

cherries in a pot

 Then strain and save the juice that you strain.  Once you have the juice you mix it three cups sugar to four cups juice and boil for 20 minutes.  This will give you a wonderful syrup.

cherry syrup

Ezra usually wants to make cherry lemonade with his syrup for serving at his birthday.

He squeezed the lemons with his new lemon juicer.  Yes, foodie that he is he asked for a lemon juicer for his birthday!

lemon juicer

making cherry lemonade

lemonade recipe

Look at that pretty color!

cherry lemonade

We also reserve some syrup for eating on waffles and pancakes!  {this is the look I get when I try to take pictures of him while eating breakfast…haha}

pancakes with cherry syrup

xoxo

 

In the Garden

I am so pleased at how well our garden is growing!

IMG_8868

Here is what we are growing this year.

Box #1

tomato garden

Roma Tomatoes

Tomatoes (regular round style)

Cherry Tomatoes

Garden Berries (small round tomatoe like fruit)

Tomatillos

Box #2

squash family garden

Zuchinni

Crook Neck Yellow Squash

Cantalope

Watermelon

Pumpkin

Acorn Squash

Butternut Squash

Box #3

cucumber

Peas

Cucumber

Lemon Cucumber

Box #4

pepper garden

Jalapenos

Seranos

Bell Pepper

Big Jim

Banana Pepper

Habanero

Here are some shots of the plants in progress.

yellow squash

tomatoe

 

watermelon

 

We have been getting zuchinni and squash thus far, I am excited to start getting some big crops!  I hope your gardens are growing well!

 

Some of my favorite workout moves

I have been having so much fun with my new gym and workout.  Most days I feel like I might pass out or throw up from the intensity, but honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I feel my body working on such a level that I have never pushed it before and it is responding which makes me feel great.  Today for my “things” post I am going to share some of the fave workout moves that I have been enjoying over the last couple of months.

{I am by no means a fitness expert or offering fitness advice to anyone, I just really like these workouts in particular}

Tire Jumps- I love doing these, they make me feel strong and really get me sweating right away.

Kettlebell Swings- Love love love these, again they get your blood pumping right away and work your whole body!

Heavy Bag workout- My trainer incorporates a lot of heavy bag work into our workouts of the day.  I like it because I also think it reinforces my karate work.

Dead Lifts- Great butt move.  We do them just like this but with weight.

Squats- Another great one for your butt and thighs… these make me happy.  I have been squatting about 110 lbs and that is probably where I will stay.

Battle Ropes- These are great for cardio.  They work your whole body!

Pliet Squats- Nothing will get to your bottom like these. Our trainer adds these in regularly and we all have a love/hate relationship with them.

Butt Ups- I usually do these with a thirty five pound weight resting on my thighs to make them a bit harder. They do the trick for sure on the bottom.

Sled Pull- Another one we have a love/hate relationship with.  We do several types of sled pulls at the gym and I really feel them the next day.

Many of these excercises are a bit unconventional but I think that is why I like them so much, it is really a challenge. I of course, am using a trainer who always makes sure that safety is number one! If you are thinking of doing any of these please do not do them without a fitness professional to help you! If you are in western colorado and are looking for a great gym check out Colorado Mountain Fitness, it is wonderful!!!

Homeschool Tips: Organization

Homeschool Tips and advice

One thing that EVERY homeschool mom has to have is an orgaziational system.  you cannot function as a homeschool if you don’t know where everything is.  You don’t have to have an entire room set up for your homeschool, but at least you must have a place where everything is kept.

Each of my boys had a basket in the dining room where their binders and work was kept when the school day was done.  That way if there was something they needed they knew where to find it.  If they were working on an ongoing project that they needed certain materials they would keep them there as well until the project was complete.  It wasn’t an elaborate orgaization process, but it worked.  There is no need when you first start out to create an entire section of your home for homeschooling, just make sure there is a spot for everything and eventually you will evolve as you need to.

Tracking lessons and time.  I kept a homeschool planner seperate from my own personal planner.  I wrote down each day what lessons we did, how many minutes (or hours) we spend on said lesson and then added up our time for the week to make sure we were staying on track.  I kept track of the things we needed to review or work further on also so that we could come back and make sure that all concepts were fully understood.  I downloaded an inexpensive homeschool planner off of Etsy, but you would go buy a planner at any store and do the same thing with it.  I liked having mine downloaded and in a three ring binder, it gave me plenty of room to write notes and details and again it was very inexpensive.

Below are some templates you are free to use.

homeshool planner expense sheet

homeschool reading list

planner schedule

homeschool daily hours worksheet

Keep in mind vacations and holidays.  They will sneak up on you, so keep them in mind when you begin a new month and also a new lesson block.  It is a bummer if Christmas break falls right on the week that you just began a new block on fractions.  I knew Ezra wasn’t going to remember anything about this new concept after the break so I did a week of review on previous lessons.  I really like to throw review in before a vacation or a break.  It really helps solidify the concepts and keeps you from having to repeat new concept lessons that didn’t stick.

Budget- keep a running tally of everything you buy.  This not only helps you plan for the next year but also helps keep you on track.  I recommend starting each year with a handwritten budget for everything.  $600 for curriculum, $540 for karate classes, $500 for Coop classes taken with teachers, $100 for extra books and literature, etc etc.  This way I know exactly what I need to buy, when and how much it is going to cost.  Again, we are lucky enough to be able to submit these items to a program that will help pay for them.

The main point is you have to have some organization to make it.  If your materials and books are strewn all over the place you will spend way too much time hunting for what you need and your school day will feel like a stressful jumbled mess.

Let me know if you have any other questions about organization.  I am all about no fuss no muss keep it simple kind of organization and I looove helping people find simple solutions that make sense for their homes.

 

Homeschool Tips: Implementation

Homeschool Tips and advice

Yesterday we spoke about some of the challenges with homeschool and whether or not it would fit for your family.  So, lets pretend today that you decided yes, this would be a viable option.

How do you move forward?

There were so many questions I had before I started.  It all seemed sooo BIG.  Really though, it isn’t.

What I do first  is put together my tentative schedule or rhythm for those of you who are familiar with the Waldorf terms.

It can be as detailed as you wish but the things you want to consider are how many hours a week you want to work on any given subject.  Language Arts is a large one so we always have more time spent on that whether it be reading, writing, typing, spelling, or handwriting practice.  We tend to spend at least 7 hours a week on Language Arts.  We break it town into sections.  Click below to see a tentative schedule for Ezra.

 daily schedule

I map out what our days will look like and then I add up the hours to make sure we are getting the allotted time.

Another thing to keep in mind is what your state requires for hours of instruction.  In Colorado, we are required to meet 720 instructional hours for the entire year.  This works out for us to be about 25 hours per week of instruction time.  Make sure you meet your allotted hours a week.

The next step is to figure out your curriculum.  That could take up an entire other post in itself.   Let me say this.  No curriculum is perfect.  I have researched thousands and each one seems to have something I would change.  There is no reason invent the wheel here.  Once you begin homeschooling you will be plenty busy following through with the curriculum so I do NOT recoommend creating your own, especially if you are just beginning.  Save your energy for helping your child transition into this new way of learning.  Just pick one and go with it, then you can tweak it to fit your needs.  Ezra needed more advanced spelling words so I added those from a list I found online to the curriculum we purchased.

Fill out the required state “intent to homeschool form at your district office”.  This was as simple as calling your local school district  (they won’t bite I swear) and asking them to email the document to me, signing it and emailing it back.  Once the form is recieved you may begin homeschooling 15 days after.  So make sure you get it in 15 days before the first day you intend on homeschooling.  Easy peasy.

GO!  Now you simply have to set up your space and do your schooling!  Again, especially if you are just starting out, keep it simple.  We did much of our schooling at our dining room table.  Why not?  Some times we do it sitting on the couch together, or at the kitchen counter while I cook.  You don’t have to get fancy with a “homeschool room”.  We did our entire first year of schooling with out a designated space.

I hope this answered some of your questions about how to actually begin homeschooling.  Check in tomorrow to talk about curriculum.

Homeschooling Tips: Getting Started

Homeschool Tips and advice

When I decided to homeschool it sort of hit me upside the head.  I had never even considered it.  I saw Ezra struggling in some areas.  I saw that he wasn’t allowed to move forward in some areas.  I saw his frustration.  I saw his confidence begin to shift.  I had to do something.  When he broke his collar bone, it felt like a sign.  He could not attend school for a number of weeks and we had already been considering homeschooling (thanks to a very encouraging sweet friend who felt passionately about it).

There were things I just didn’t know.  I had no idea what homeschooling actually meant.  I had a quick crash course (again, from an aquaintence who works with a homeschooling charter school) on the ins and outs of homeschooling.

Here are somethings to consider if you are considering:

Time: Do you as a mother have the time to put in the hours and make sure your child is learning.  I am so very thankful that in this situation I was able to shift some things around and devote the time it takes to homeschool.  How much time does it take?  Each day Ezra spends about 4 hours on core subjects {math, science, language arts, social studies}, and about 30 minutes to an hour free reading.  On top of that we have to fulfil some electives {art, drama, pe, music, cooking,language}.  We decided that we would call our karate PE and we also take regular swimming lessons.  We added in art and cooking for a few hours a week.  Altogether we spend about 25 hours per week on actual studies.  Granted, Ezra is able to complete much of it on his own without me being right there with him, but I have to be there to help him if he needs it.  He is not old enough to stay home alone and I don’t feel like that is a responsibility he is ready for.  I also spend about 4-5 hours a week lesson planning and gathering supplies.  (I am hoping that next year will be less however, by using another curriculum).  The very first question to ask yourself after reading this paragraph is do I have 25-30 hours a week to devote exclusively to homeschooling?

Money:  There is homeschool money available out there all you have to do is access it.  Unfortunate for us this year, we missed the cut off date {generally Oct 1st for most states} to access any homeschooling funds.  Most states have a program to help you access those funds.  Our local one is called Vision Charter School and they have three campuses!  I had no idea this even existed until I started looking into homeschooling.  They will get state funding for me to purchase curriculum and pay for any classes I chose to sign my kids up for.  I am looking forward to being able to utiilize this next fall.  To find out if there is one in your area you can probably chat with a homeschooler you know {most local homeschoolers probably use the programs} or even google it as it would be part of your school district.  There are also public funded “blended” schools where kids can remote in online via webcam to certain classes.  I have some friends here on the Western Slope who utilized a blended school in Colorado Springs on the other side of the state.

Teaching: Do you feel like you can/want to teach your child?  I was a bit torn about it.  Ezra was so excited to begin homeschooling that I felt it was worth a shot.  If he “bought in” then he would be motivated to try harder.  It is a challenge somedays even still.  Looking back, I think we did pretty well together.  There were some hiccups, and some burnout toward the end of the year.  Overall, we rocked it.  I found I was able to relearn with him some of the math skills that honestly we just don’t use anymore.  (who multiplies fractions everyday?)  You don’t have to be a teacher, that is why you buy a curriculum.  Follow it and BAM they start learning!  If teaching your child sounds like a version of hell there are other options as well.   There are also public funded “blended” schools where kids can remote in online via webcam to certain classes.  I have some friends here on the Western Slope who utilized a blended school in Colorado Springs on the other side of the state.  They sent my friend a computer with a webcam for her child along with all of his books, supplies and a science kit.  He remoted in a few times a week and did much of his work independently to submit to his teacher online.

Socialization:  Everyone is concerned about socialization when homeschooling is mentioned.  I have found this to be a non issue.  This is different for every family.  We are involved in so many activities that Ezra was consistently given the opportunity to socialize with kids his age.  We also have friends who have kids his age that we could get him together with.  We often have family events and dinners which also is a great way for kids to socialize.  Who says socialization is only with kids their same age?  Part of socialization is learning to interact with adults as well.  I want my kids to be able and willing to carry on a conversation with an adult they come in contact with as well.  Late in the year, we tapped into some homeschooling groups and found a few families that have kids his same age.  This was a great blessing also!  To find out if there is a homeschooling group in your area, you can look up homeschool coop or home educators coop and it may put you in contact with other familes.  Our town is pretty small so I was able to find out who is homeschooling via word of mouth and go directly to them.  One thing to note:  I am not really shy or nervous about reaching out to people.  I was able to get out there and make some connections for the boys.  If this is a challenge for you, or if you don’t know any families that have kids around the same age as your kids already, this could be a challenge.  Simply signing them up for outside activities could help with that.  I know we run into all the same families over and over at our events {swimming, karate, etc}.

These topics will give you some food for thought when you are deciding whether or not homeschooling is something your family can do.  I suggest sitting down with your spouse and going through them and really discuss each topic.