Journal: Road Trip with Bill, Homeschooling Regrets and Chocolate Gravy

working on scrapbooks

working on scrapbooks

This past week was our only week of summer break from school…after two days I remembered quite well why we do not take an extended vacation from formal schooling. They get into a fair amount of trouble with too much free time. They did have fun spending a few hours each day working on their own photo albums from our Disney trip last year. I’ve never allowed them to use my scrapbooking supplies in the past so they were really excited to touch all the forbidden paper, stickers, and sharp cutting tools! My husband and I just loved how their scrapbooks turned out. I enjoyed learning about the trip from each of their view points. I plan to let them make more scrapbooks in the future.

friends

friends

I think Littlest has struggled the most with the break from school. Nearly every day he begged to do his school work. He is very proud to be a Kindergartener. He really wants to learn to read and loves math. I just want him to enjoy being a little boy. He is only four and there is plenty of time to learn to read. In the past, I was so excited that Middle Boy was such a quick study that I pushed him too early to learn to read (and he is doing just fine now). Four years later I feel guilty about pushing Middle Boy into academics too soon…even though he was and still is perfectly capable. I think I felt the pressure to prove that we were not crazy to homeschool and I pushed all of my children too

schoolhouse in Bardstown

schoolhouse in Bardstown

hard. I regret that now. A few years ago I felt I had to prove to family that we were making the right decision. Today…well…it does not matter so much how others view us.

I used to have romantic notions of what it meant to be a part of an extended family. I used to dream of having nieces and nephews. I wanted to make biscuits and chocolate gravy like my Aunt Opal used to make and tell bedtime stories like my Aunt Pauline (but not about ghosts…why did she tell us scary ghost stories?!).  I’ll never be an aunt…an awesome auntie like the ones I had. And that is okay…it is now anyway. I’ve cried my tears and let it all fade. During my years of dreaming I never dreamed about being a mother. I desperately wanted

Littlest and host taking a nap

Littlest and host taking a nap

to be a mother but never thought God would allow me to possess such reality. I always believed that I did not deserve my deepest desire and never allowed myself to openly acknowledge such yearnings.

Right now…the dreams I feared to acknowledge are my daily life…

I’ve never made my Aunt Opal’s chocolate gravy (she taught me how to make it). I guess I’ve been waiting for those nieces and nephews that will never be. I think I will surprise my own children one morning and make it for them…yes…I will do that soon.

competitive game of Apples to Apples

competitive game of Apples to Apples

We went on a little road trip this week to Lexington and stayed with friends. Our travel time ended up coinciding with Tropical Storm Bill. It rained everywhere we went! On the way to Lexington we stopped in Bardstown and went to the Civil War Museum. The museum is fabulous and if you are nearby sometime you should consider visiting. They also have several buildings on the grounds from the colonial time period. I think it was once a living museum but has not been active for the past few years. There is also a Women’s Civil War Museum nearby and a Mid-America War Memorial. Bardstown is a really beautiful town and I hope to explore it a little more someday. My two favorite items on display were General Robert E Lee’s amnesty oath signature and a Colt

Sparkles and Sisters

Sparkles and Sisters

42 belonging to Sargent York.

In Lexington we had a blast staying with dear friends. (Thank you for hosting us!!!)

On our way home we stopped to visit my former home at the monastery. I had the most wonderful visit with the sisters. I love then so much and I am the mother and wife I am meant to be because of my time with them. They gave Sparkles a lovely sewing machine! Tomorrow she will write the best thank you note of her life!!! I am blessed to call them my sisters and doubly blessed they are still a part of my life today.

Sparkles learning her new machine

Sparkles learning her new machine

My sweet friend Mama Quilts came over and spent the morning teaching Sparkles how to use her new sewing machine. Afterward, I took my sparkly girl to the store to pick out some fabric for a small quilt. She is so excited!

Tomorrow we will begin our summer session of school…

My Aunt Opal’s Chocolate Gravy

Sift 2 tablespoons of cocoa and 2 tablespoons of flour into a bowl with one cup of sugar. Add I&1/2 cups of milk, just a bit at a time until the mixture is smooth. Pour it into a cast iron skillet on a hot stove. Cook and stir until the mixture is smooth adding some water to keep it from getting too thick if necessary. Serve over hot biscuits. Yum!!! Kids will love you…guaranteed!

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

 

 

 

 

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Weekly Wrap-up: Joy in Service and Curriculum Choices

Sparkles picture of me as teacher...so humbling

Sparkles picture of me as teacher…so humbling

My last wrap-up was two weeks ago. This time last week I was working at the Beautiful Feet Books’ booth at the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati. First of all, a huge thanks to Kris of Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers for her advise on how I should approach this amazing opportunity. I was so nervous and she reminded me to pray first and remember that I am in the booth to share how I used the curriculum in my own home. Yes, it is kinda sad that I had to be reminded to pray but I am grateful (and humbled) for her comforting wisdom. I must share that I loved every moment of working at the booth and speaking with so many homeschooling families. The Lord laid such a burden on my heart for these parents that I wept and prayed over them every morning and evening. The burden and joy was so great that on the last day of the convention I never took a break or even went to the bathroom without notice to my personal comfort. I’m

Middle Boy and Monty

Middle Boy and Monty

not sharing that to brag about my stamina but to share how deeply I believe in the value of Beautiful Feet Books and that Jesus called me to serve his people in that time. I have felt exhausted and empty all week…but in a good and joyful way.

I did bring home with me the remaining inventory from the Beautiful Feet Books’ booth. It is currently sitting in my lower kitchen (yes, my house has two full kitchens!). There was no reason to ship all of these books to California just to ship them to Florida for the next convention. So I agreed to bring them home and send them on to Florida when needed. My oldest is just tortured by those boxes of books. He knows there are some awesome titles in those boxes and it is driving him crazy that he cannot dive in and read!!! He considers those unopened boxes a form of cruel torture. I understand but we do have some fun box days coming up next week hopefully!

my beautiful crew

my beautiful crew

Next week we kinda begin our new school year. The crew still has a month of their core subjects to complete. In math they began the year a full two years behind since we switched curriculums. They are currently only four months behind in math now. they have worked hard to get caught up to their proper grade level in math and I couldn’t be more proud for all of their hard work. Of course, they have no idea how proud I am…but maybe they should be. Next week we will begin new science and Bible studies and Oldest will begin his new history study. Since we are beginning new studies and finishing up old courses naturally, no one knows what grade they are in anymore. Does it really matter?

Our new Bible study is Danika Cooleys’s Bible Road Trip . We are tired of fluffy Bible curriculums. Earlier this year Middle Boy asked if we could just read the Bible for ourselves instead of reading kiddy versions. I thought he had a good (but kinds scary) point. We are going to read the Bible together over three years with this curriculum. It also contains a geography study, scripture memorization, and notebooking pages for every book of the Bible.

egg hunt

egg hunt

Our new science is Sonlight’s core F…human anatomy. I actually intended to come up with my own science curriculum this year and had already purchased seven books toward that purpose. My kids were asking questions about where babies come from so I thought it would be good to build a science curriculum around human anatomy.  I was totally shocked to see that Sonlight had a curriculum already written using all of the books I had chosen (plus several others)!!! I saw no reason to reinvent the wheel so I purchased their Instructor guide and the remaining books for their course on human anatomy. I’m teaching sex education this year…please pray for me. Of course, I know that children come from a Nora Jones CD and a good bottle of wine…but I’m not going to explain that to my children…they’ll figure that out on their own one day. I might be in over my head with this one…did I mention I need prayers?!?

Oldest with Polly

Oldest with Polly

Oldest will be using Cover Story for writing this year. He is so excited!!! He has begged for this curriculum for two years. This year he is finally old enough to use it. I wanted to wait until the middle two could use it too but decided to let his enthusiasm lead the way. He has just five more weeks on Writing With Skill left before he can dive into Cover Story. He is such a creative boy and I am excited to see what he will do with Cover Story.

Oldest has already begun Visual Latin. My middle two will begin soon. I had intended for everyone to start together but Oldest just begged and begged to begin. So I relented. He loves it. His enthusiasm is so great that the middle two are looking forward to beginning Latin as well.  I really thought I would have to fight with my crew to learn Latin but they are excited about the opportunity…I feel like I am in the Twilight Zone sometimes…

The previous week was Easter and Holy Week. Since we go to the traditional service we are the only family in attendance at church with children. All of the other families with children go to the

with my crew on Easter Sunday

with my crew on Easter Sunday

contemporary service. So on Palm Sunday our children got to run around the church with Palm branches. My crew thought this was great fun! Maybe a tad too much fun…On Easter we stayed home and enjoyed a quiet day. My husband hid eggs in the yard and the kids had a great time finding them. He always hides special eggs with extra screen time, money, cuddle time, and giving someone else your chores eggs. They had a great time hunting eggs. Littlest found all of the money eggs and Oldest got both of the punish someone else with your chores eggs! Still, one extra screen time egg wasn’t found. So much fun!!!! We did enjoy a nice quiet Easter at home this year.

On my nightstand this week:

History of the Catholic Church by James Hitchcock. This was a gift from my Passionist family. I would like to add a course on church history in the future…

How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture  by Francis A Schaeffer. My edition is older. I find this book fascinating. Mr. Schaeffer has completely transformed my understanding of the effects of humanism on the early church and the how the Reformation countered the influences of humanism.

Bulfinch’s Mythology. Next to the Bible it is the oldest book I own. Originally published in the 1850’s to early 1860’s in three parts. I learned from Rea Berg that we should read the old books along with newer books so we can understand the past and not be blinded by our current generation’s beliefs. She was quoting C. S. Lewis from his introduction to “On the Incarnation” by Athanasius. I’ve always felt too stupid to read the old classic books but if C.S. Lewis and Rea say it is good practice then I am going to give it a go…maybe it is time to learn on my own…

Posts I enjoyed this week:

all the wonderful reasons to enjoy music and keep up with piano lessons from CBC Music

reading aloud isn’t just for the wee ones from Just Extraordinary

wondering how my own little homeschool will change in the years to come from Joyful Hearts and Faces

a fun little quiz to find out your homeschooling style from Eclectic Homeschooling

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Cincinnati Convention 2015

view of vendor hall

view of vendor hall

I’m still recovering from this year’s convention. Wow! I enjoyed my time working at Beautiful Feet Books’ booth and all of the lectures I managed to attend. I only made it to five sessions this year and three of those were from Rea Berg the founder of Beautiful Feet Books. I absolutely loved every lecture and learned more than I have been able to contemplate yet. My favorite conference from her was…well I do not remember the title exactly but it was something like “Charlotte Mason meats Plato”. I left her talks feeling encouraged and emboldened for the year ahead. Last year I attended a few classical based sessions and just felt like I was some sort of homeschooling slacker-mom and my kids would barely qualify to enter adulthood. I felt defeated and beaten in soul last year. Today, after soaking in the wisdom of the sessions I attended I am at peace with the direction our little homeschool is headed.

Rea Berg sharing her passion

Rea Berg sharing her passion

The other two lectures I attended were joint discussions from Dr. Jay Wile and Diana Waring. The first was a delightful sharing of wisdom on what they wished they had known about homeschooling. Their second topic was about dealing with homeschooling pressures and just slowing down. I definitely got all caught up in trying to do too much in our homeschool this past year. Fortunately, I did realize my mistake and loosened the reigns a bit. We even abandoned some curriculum! The biggest change for me was letting go of my dependence on an “expert’s book” and choosing the path myself (with many hours spent in prayer) our homeschool will walk. I’m excited to begin out new schooling year! Sadly, I missed hearing Dr. Kathy Koch this year…always next time.

In all five lectures I encountered one unifying theme. Humility. Rea, Dr. Wile, and Mrs. Waring (who retired from conventions this year!!!) all emphasized the importance of humility in the teaching parent with her students/children. I’ve always been quick to apologize to my kids when I sin…especially when I lose my temper. Learning is impossible when we are all frustrated and angry. I want our learning environment to be organic…living. A humble mother is serving and nurturing and I hope to deeply live out the concept of “mother culture” this year. I have piles of good books we are going to study this year…a collection of both old and new books. We are going to keep the breeze of the centuries flowing…God’s communion with humanity is ongoing and I am going to bring (and join with) my children into that great conversation.

my meager purchases...the rest had to be ordered

my meager purchases…the rest had to be ordered

During the few hours I had available for shopping I met three of my lovely readers! I just want you to know how exciting it was for me to meet you and your families! I hope you had a fabulous time at the convention and that your upcoming school year is fantastic! I also felt just a wee bit shy…Knowing that I would be working this year at the convention I researched every vendor on the list this year so that I would know exactly what I needed to purchase. I ordered our core subjects from Christian Light Education and Cover Story for Oldest. I spent the rest of my shopping time looking for gifts for my crew. I found a bunny for Littlest, a hand crocheted owl purse for Sparkles and Lego pieces for Oldest and Middle Boy. Oldest also got a new program for making stop-motion movies and everyone got a book to read about the science behind Batman’s technology.

working at the Beautiful Feet Books booth

working at the Beautiful Feet Books booth

My absolute favorite part of the convention this year was meeting Rea Berg, her son Josh and the rest of the team at Beautiful Feet Books. I had the great privilege of meeting Rea and personally telling her how deeply grateful I am for her influence not just in our homeschool but also within our family. I will forever be grateful for her mentorship. Working for her company was a gift to me. Every morning I prayed to be a blessing and source of comfort to every family who stopped at the Beautiful Feet Books’ booth. I’ve had many jobs over the years and this was the first time I ever loved what I was doing. I’m still exhausted from the weekend but I loved every moment that I worked with the team.

Just as last year I traveled with Mrs. Cuddle-me and stayed at the Passionist Nuns Monastery in Erlanger. Traveling with my friend is always an adventure to remember. Staying at the monastery and visiting with my deeply loved and Passionist family is always so very cherished.

I’m also very excited to tell you that Oldest and I will be sharing our work with Beautiful Feet Books’ Medieval History Advanced Intermediate and Junior High Guide. I’ll be sharing with you how we approach the guide and books and any activities we may add. Oldest already wants to add a Medieval feast and make an illuminated manuscript page. After looking over the guide together this weekend we are ready to get this study started! This week we will finish the Ancient History guide and dive right into Medieval history next week.

Weekly Wrap-up: Snow Day

Sparkles and Daddy time

Sparkles and Daddy time

Over the weekend we mostly hung out at home. My husband took Sparkles out for some Daddy and daughter time. They ended up at a jewelry store gazing at all of the lovely sparkling adornments. The only other incident of passing interest was that I dropped about fifteen or so pounds of flour in the kitchen…all over my husband! The crew was totally stunned to see what a huge mess their mother is capable of making on occasion. I cleaned it up but every time I open a cabinet more flour falls out of the hinges. Fun!

Sister Gemma is in the front row on the right

Sister Gemma is in the front row on the right

Saturday I received a small package from Mother at the monastery. She sent a letter about the unexpected death of Sister Gemma. I was devastated and could not even read the letter at first. I knew what the letter would say as soon as I saw the last rights Mass reading and prayer cards. I loved listening to Sister Gemma’s ghost stories about England. She had a gift for telling stories…you could feel the sunrise on the mist and smell the freshness of the spring grass when she spoke. The best part of her journey is now begun. I’ve cried a few times this week. On Monday I called Mother to ask how all the sisters are coping. I also made arrangements to visit in the spring.

snow day fun

snow day fun

Monday morning we woke to snow! I promised the kids the day off from school for the first snow of the school year…I just didn’t expect it quite so early. They played outside, watched a movie, ate popcorn and drank lots of hot chocolate. Tuesday was bitterly cold!!! November is just too early in the season for thirteen degrees. The kids were very excited to see temperatures above freezing later in the week. I questioned my sanity somewhat on Tuesday morning for signing Littlest up for preschool…too cold to be out of the house. I’m seriously reconsidering preschool for next year…and I’ll change my mind a dozen times between now and then. Maybe Yoga Mom will lend me her Sonlight Kindergarten…

the flour explosion

the flour explosion

In school we finished up a few exams but I didn’t want to start any new units with Thanksgiving break right around the corner. We’ve spent the week working on art projects, the Notgrass Thanksgiving unit study, wrapping up the Beautiful Feet Books geography study, and finishing the insanely complicated Mozart lapbook from Zeezok. The previous composer lapbooks have been fine but this one about Mozart is about to do us in. Next week we will finish up a few art projects and get completely caught up with our science labs…even if we have to do science labs on Thanksgiving!!!!

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

 

Homeschool Convention Survival Tips and Favorites

convention hall

convention hall

I’ve been promising this post about my first trip to the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention for a long while. Sometimes life just gets a little too crazy…Anyway, here are my survival tips for a homeschool convention, sessions I enjoyed and my favorite booths.

Survival Tips:

I think you’ll find these same tips on anyone’s blog…

Wear comfortable shoes. I wore flip-flops which may not sound comfortable to some of you but I live in them as long as the weather is warm enough. I’d rather just go barefoot most of the time… Also wear comfortable clothing picked out for the task at hand. I saw one lady with a skirt that was a wee bit too short and showed a little too much when she bent over. I took a sweater with me and was glad because some of the conference rooms were a bit cool.

area to purchase recorded sessions at convention

area to purchase recorded sessions at convention

Set a budget! I knew about what I would spend for the items I needed. I also knew there would be other finds I might decide to purchase. I set aside some money ($150) in my budget for “splurge items”. I used that money to buy little gifts for the kids, books by Chuck Black, and FitDeck cards.

My husband rigged up a milk crate to a dolly with bungee cords for me. You really do not want to carry anything. I couldn’t imagine how sore my shoulders and arms would have been if I’d carried all those books. I kept a water bottle, snacks (Kind bars), medicine (Aleve and Tylenol), notebook and pen in the crate. I kept my phone, ID, room key,money and credit card in a crossbody purse that I never took off. I knew that if I carried my regular purse I might set it down to look at something and forget it.

Mrs. Cuddle-me and yours truely

Mrs. Cuddle-me and yours truely

Go with a friend and leave the kids at home. I had a wonderful time with my sweet friend and we had a blast together. We also survived a few misadventures and kept our sense of humor (mostly…I did have a moment). She had been to the Cincinnati convention before so she was an absolute great guide for this newbie! Definitely go with someone who has been there before!

If you are going to be there for all three days then get away from the convention for one of the afternoons. I was a bit overwhelmed by everything and needed time to process and think about something other than homeschooling and curriculum. We did go out for a really wonderful dinner on Saturday evening and that was really nice. I remember thinking at the restaurant we should have done the same the previous afternoon.

Favorite Sessions:

I started researching speakers and vendors in December. I read the speaker biographies and made a list of anyone that sounded interesting. I then checked YouTube and listened to some of them to see if I might like one of their sessions. In the end I had a list of about ten speakers.

my convention purchases...note the pile of receipts in the corner!!!

my convention purchases…note the pile of receipts in the corner!!!

The speaker at the top of my list was Susan Wise Bauer. I ended up missing the session from her that I wanted to hear but thankfully was able to purchase a recording of her talk. The CD’s were six bucks a pop so I only ended up purchasing three sessions. If you get a chance I recommend listening to Bauer’s talk on homeschool burnout.

My second favorite speaker was Martin Cothran. His session on logic was very informative and enjoyable. I also listened to him again during a panel discussion on Classical education. The panel discussion was very good with lots of good-natured ribbing between the speakers. I found it rather interesting when they compared homeschoolers’ homes to ancient monasteries where knowledge was preserved for future generations. Since I once lived in a monastery this statement really struck me. The nuns we were staying with were also impressed by the comparison. (My former community let us stay in the guest room!)

I had planned to listen to Karen Holinga’s session on spelling but lucked into talking to her on the vendor floor. She answered all of my questions about her curriculum SpellingYouSee and even helped me place my crew and gave me personal advise for helping my Oldest. One of the neatest perks in attending the convention was getting to talk to several of the curriculum writers. I ended up skipping a few sessions because I got to talk to the individual at their booths and didn’t feel the need to attend.

Favorite Booths:

The number of booths at the convention was…astounding, overwhelming, crazy…I never did see everything! I had researched the vendor list before hand so I already knew what I wanted to look at. On the first day I purchased the curriculum I knew I needed. On the second day I looked at items I was comparing. Oldest needed a timeline for his history studies. I went to several booths looking at their timelines and comparing the prices and features. I ended up with the timeline book from Homeschool in the Woods.

Cincinnati homeschool convention

Cincinnati homeschool convention

I spent the last day browsing curriculum that I might like to use in the future. I took cards and brochures and spoke briefly with the folks in the booths about their curriculum. I let them know that I was future browsing and they were usually very willing to let me know the age/grade level of their product. When I got home I place the cards/brochures into the appropriate grade level of my Well Trained Mind book. Later, when I start researching curriculum for future grades I’ll find those in my book.

I also spent my last day taking pictures of my five favorite booths to share with you.

037 (3)1. Meeting Kris Bales of Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers. When I read on her blog that she would be working the Geography Matters booth I got a little excited and nervous. I started reading her blog several years ago when I first began thinking about homeschooling. Every time I had a question or struggle about homeschooling I could often find the answer somewhere on her blog. I even found a comment on her blog that led me to our favorite curriculum Beautiful Feet Books! I wanted to personally thank her for the work she put into her blog and let her know just how much I appreciated her ministry. Her blog (and Hodgepodge) helped me through that first very lonely and insecure year of homeschooling. I was so nervous but I am glad that I could tell her how much her mentorship through her blog means to me. I really wanted a picture with her but just couldn’t get up the nerve to ask. I was also given a copy of Homeschooling Today Magazine which is connected to Geography Matters. I ended up purchasing a subscription because I enjoyed every article. The magazine was my favorite freebie.

041 (3)2. Meeting Chuck Black and his wife Andrea. Mr. Black is the writer of The Kingdom Series and The Knight’s of Arrethtrea Series. He is also working on a new series of books. Even though his booth was tucked away in a corner across from Rainbow Resources he was always busy. Several times when I walked by I couldn’t even get near his books to look through for all of the people wanting to speak with him. Mr. Black answered everyone’s questions. His books are fictionally (setting is something like the Middle Ages with knights) based on Scripture including discussion questions (and answers) for each chapter. My friend wanted to know where he stood on the Rapture and their discussion included words like: eschatology, premillennialism, postmillennialism, dispensationalism, amillennialism, dispensational premillennialism and other words that I no long remember…even after listening to their conversation I couldn’t tell you where either one of them stands on the whole End-of-the-World-Scenario…too many big words for me to follow. I ended up reading the first several pages of the first book and knew that my kids would love these books…I didn’t want to put the book down! Since returning home I’ve been reading these books to the kids before bedtime and going through the discussion questions with them.

This booth was always really busy too...

This booth was always really busy too…

3. The Critical Thinking Company. I stopped at this booth because Bauer’s The Well Trained Mind recommends some of their books for pre-logic. The lady (I could just kick myself for not writing her name down!) working this booth was very informative and gave me several tips for using the workbook with my crew. She also stopped to comfort me when I was having my little breakdown while on her break. She could have just walked on by but she didn’t. I won’t forget her compassion or warm hug…but I did forget her name…

I spent the most money with Christian Light

I spent the most money with Christian Light

4. Christian Light Education. I love their curriculum and more importantly so do my kids! Their booth was like a calm oasis in the vendor hall even though it was really busy. They helped me to place my crew from MathUSee into their program. I brought my crew’s placement tests (on their website) with me and they used those to help me make my decision. Even though Oldest had passed the placement test by one point into his grade level they advised that it might be best to place him a grade lower to build his confidence in math and familiarity with the new teaching style. My crew was reluctant to change their math curriculum but they ended up liking it right after the first lesson. Sometimes Middle Boy even asks to do an extra lesson! Yeah!!!

A minute with this lady will leave a spring in your step!

A minute with this lady will leave a spring in your step!

5. Laurie Gombash of The ABC’s of Movement.  I learned a ton of information about the importance of movement during learning. Ms. Gombash is also very enthusiastic and I left her booth in high spirits. Her main product is for younger children but I really liked the idea of teaching the alphabet through movement. She also had some FitDecks at her booth and she helped me to pick out one (Pilates) that would be good to use with my crew. Sometimes we put on silly songs with movement from YouTube (brain breaks) but these can be more distracting than helpful. Now, we take turns picking five cards after a couple of subjects or whenever someone cannot concentrate and perform the exercise on the card. The exercises range from super easy to insanely hard but we are having a lot of fun with these cards. On days we use the cards my distractible boy is more focused on his work and I’ve noticed my back feels a little better too. Sometimes my crew still asks for the silly songs and dances but most of the time they ask for the FitDeck cards when we take a movement break.

I enjoyed my first convention trip and hope to return next year. The Sisters at the monastery have already stated they expect to host us again next year!

 

Weekly Wrap-up: Friending the Screw-up Fairy

Cincinnati homeschool convention

Cincinnati homeschool convention

So much has happened in the past two weeks I’m not sure exactly where to begin! Last week my husband left work early because of a kidney stone. I ended up taking him to the emergency room when it did not pass and he could no longer endure the pain. My sweet friend Mrs. Cuddle-me stayed with the kids so I could stay with my husband. After a few hours they sent us home with pain meds and we hoped the stone would pass on its own. The stubborn stone never did pass. I wanted to cancel my trip to the convention in Cincinnati but my husband refused to let me stay. He insisted I go and have fun. So on Thursday morning Mrs. Cuddle-me and I hit the road. He stayed home with four kids and a troublesome kidney stone. My friends Mama Quilts and Makrothumia remained on stand-by in case he needed help. He never called anyone…

Mrs. Cuddle-me at the wheel

Mrs. Cuddle-me at the wheel

Mrs. Cuddle-me drove the entire trip. She chauffeured me around like I was a princess. We’re a great match for trips: she likes to drive and I prefer the passenger seat. Early on in the trip her vehicle started to act up. She shut off the cruise and it drove fine the rest of the trip but the “check engine ” light would pop on every now and then. I thought maybe we should turn around but she wasn’t concerned at all. I realized at that moment my friend was far braver than I. Our next mishap occurred in Verona when the keys were inadvertently locked in the vehicle. I won’t say who was responsible but

in Verona after the local police rescued us

in Verona after the local police rescued us

I wasn’t in the driver’s seat. I also made her show me the keys every time we got out of the vehicle.  Verona doesn’t have any Pop-a-locks so we had to wait for the Boone county police to break into our ride. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long and we were back on the road.

Before heading to Cincinnati we checked in with the Sisters in Erlanger. We were blessed to stay in their guest room for our convention trip. I stayed in that very room several years ago (16 years ago!!!) hoping to be accepted into the community. Stepping into the room and remembering my younger self…was disconcerting. One of those past meeting the future

the key to out room in the Monastery

the key to out room in the Monastery

kind of moments. I was heart-broken the first time I stayed in the monastery guest room. I gave up my deepest dreams in that room and accepted God’s urging to religious life. All I have ever wanted was to be a wife and mother…nothing else. I laid those dreams down in that room, sacrificed my heart and embraced God’s will. Now my dreams are reality…I am a wife and mother to four beautiful children. I am beautifully blessed…maybe God blessed me with my heart’s desire because I chose to obey Him. I’m not sure why I am so blessed but I am truly grateful. Anyway, I had a moment there…

Cincinnati, the big city

Cincinnati, the big city

After checking in with Mother we headed to the convention in Cincinnati at the Duke Energy Center. We arrived before the vendor hall opened and went to a conference by Martin Cothran on Classical education and the importance of Logic. Oldest begins pre-logic this year so I took plenty of notes and am looking forward to learning along side him. Mr. Cothran is a very good speaker and I recommend stopping to listen to him if you ever get the chance.

the Passionist Nuns' Monastery

the Passionist Nuns’ Monastery

We then made our way to the vendor hall…so huge!!! I made my way over to the Christian Light Education booth and made my order with them. I finally decided to switch from MathUSee (or MathUDon’tSee as my husband says) to CLE math. They helped me figure out where to place my crew (one year behind!!) and we will get started in math once the Light Units arrive. I also spoke to the developer of the Spelling You See curriculum and decided to go with their program after reviewing several spelling curriculums. Even though looking at all of the books in the vendor hall is fun the real treat is speaking with all of the people who put their heart into developing and writing the various curriculums. Later this week I will post about my favorite five booths and

the monastery guest room

the monastery guest room

share my tips on attending a homeschool convention. I made most of my purchases on Thursday night. That evening I met Kris at the Geography Matters booth (she hosts the weekly wrap-up) and got to tell her just how much she means to me even though we had never physically met until that very moment. My first year of homeschooling was so very lonely and every time I had a concern about my homeschool I would turn to her blog (and Hodgepodge Mom’s blog) for help and guidance. They were my mentors and it meant a lot to me to be able to tell her in person and thank her for her ministry to those of us just starting on this homeschool journey. I really wanted a picture with her but I was too shy to ask.

032 (3)On Friday I met Susan Wise Bauer. I was a bit star-struck and forgot to ask how to go through Writing With Ease at half-pace. The writing curriculum is supposed to be for fifth graders but is now considered a little too hard for most fifth graders and they recommend tackling it at half speed or waiting until sixth grade. So I’ll have to figure that out now but it was cool to meet her…not that she’ll remember. That night we ate at Cracker Barrel and found a mug that said “I see the Screw-up Fairy has visited again”! Mrs. Cuddle-me and I decided that was the theme of our trip. Several things went wrong (too many to mention!!!!) but we mostly kept our humor and everything did work out just fine. She witnessed me at my very worst when I flipped out because my husband needed some medicine and the doctor’s office didn’t come through for him. She helped solve the problem and sent her husband on a mission of mercy for my husband. After witnessing me break down she declared there was nothing scary about me at all. After this trip I decided she was the sister I never had but always wanted!!!

yours truly trying to use chop-sticks!!!

yours truly trying to use chop-sticks!!!

We left the convention early on Saturday and went to a hibachi and sushi restaurant for dinner. At first we were going to go to a restaurant called Chipotles but my husband recommended against it. We also discovered that Siri could not pronounce “chipotle” (try it out if you have an iPhone!). I had never been to a hibachi restaurant and had no idea what to expect. I quickly texted my husband to ask what to order and he gave his advice. He was excited for me to experience something new and completely out of my comfort zone. He joked that any meal that didn’t come with toys was a bit out of my element!

Sunday morning we visited with the Sisters before heading home. Despite the terrible storms we made it home safely. Littlest was so mad at me that he hugged Mrs. Cuddle-

hibachi

hibachi

me first!!! The kids and I took my husband to the hospital Monday morning and thankfully he was able to have surgery the same day for the kidney stone. Later, Mrs. Cuddle-me stayed with my crew again so I could be with my husband as he recovered from surgery. I am so blessed to call her “friend”!! Without her the kids would have had a long night in the ER and a very long day at the hospital.

084 (2)The kids started swimming lessons this week. Middle Boy is making great progress in overcoming his fear of being in the water and actually swam this week!!! I am very proud of him and thankful the head coach of the swim team is spending so much time teaching my crew to swim…of course it helps that everyone else is still attending government school during lessons. I worked getting everything back to normal for my crew this week and next week we will dive back into our school work.

Linking up with: Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Wrap-up: Getting Back to Normal and Other Delusions

angel on rolled stone at Jesus's former tomb

angel on rolled stone at Jesus’s former tomb

Life is slowly getting back to normal. The kids are nearly through with their process of Grandma detoxification…as I call it. We still have tons of treats to eat and I will be glad when they are all gone…four large boxes of chocolate pop-tarts, three boxes of chocolate cereal and other goodies that I never purchase. After the grandma detox will come the sugar detox and then everything will be back to normal. Yeah normal!!!

This week is Holy Week. It is the one time of year I miss the Catholic Church. During this week I long for the traditions, pageantry, and solemnity of Holy Week. I’ve been a Christian for almost twenty years now…half of those years in the Catholic Church and half as a…non-denominational Christian…some sort of Protestant I guess. Every Sunday when I go to church (currently Baptist) I always wonder why there is no Crucifix…why do Protestants shun the Crucifix. Maybe I should ask about it one of these days. Tomorrow is Good Friday…and I will miss walking the Way of the Cross.

art lessons

art lessons

Speaking of the Catholic Church…guess where I will be this time next week…My friend Mrs. Cuddle-me and I are going to the homeschool convention in Cincinnati. We will be staying in the guest room at the Monastery where I was once a member. The last time I stayed in that room was in the summer of 1997…hoping and praying to be accepted into the community. Standing in that room again might be an…odd moment for me. I am looking forward to seeing my Sisters and Mother again, going to my first convention, and sharing this strange and beautiful moment with my friend. This time next week I will be encountering a memory of myself…should be weird.

Littlest sleeping during science lessons

My husband and I decided to spend Resurrection Sunday at home this year. I am on nursery rotation at church this month and will be tired after taking care of a class full of two years olds. A day at home with just my family sounds peaceful.

We started our summer semester this week in the homeschool. We have a few chapters of Story of the World to finish and about twenty lessons from Primary Early American History (Beautiful Feet Book) to finish up from the school year. This week we added a weather and climate study and we started Geography through Literature from Beautiful Feet Books. We have only completed four lessons in the geography study so far but the crew absolutely loves the course. I can already tell our summer studies are going to be great fun! We’ve also been working our way through the See The Light The Crossmaker art DVD lessons this week…the crew is loving it.

geography lessons

geography lessons

We got our IOWA test results back this week and I was very happy with the crew’s performance…mostly. I am still concerned about math. We are using MathUSee and I am wondering if we should switch to Christian Light Education math. Most of their lower scores (lower but still average) were in math. Should I switch or not…undecided at the moment.

If anyone has some tips about attending a homeschool convention I am very open to advise…

Linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers