Friday, August 27, 2010

It's funny how time flies...

Seriously...didn't I JUST put away the Christmas decorations??!  How is it about to be September already?  I hate blinking.  You blink and you lose 6 months of your life. ;)

So the fall season is about to be upon us and so begins one of our busiest times of the year.  Scouts for both of the boys is in full swing, Dragon*Con is next weekend and we leave for a week in Connecticut on 9/13.  When we return from CT, we will have back-to-back weekends of camping with the Scouts.  On top of that, I signed them up for soccer today.  This will be Braeden's 4th season and Bailey's 13th season.  No, that's not a typo, lol...he's played twice a year since he was 5!  Soccer will take up our evenings on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as our Saturday mornings for the next 8 weeks or so.  In the midst of that, we need to make our way to our Scout meetings AND try to fit in some learnin' around here.

Wow, reading all of that really puts the chaos in perspective. Sheesh...

Even though we officially do school year round, September 7 will be our first day in our new grades.  I have been checking out our homeschool lesson plans for the upcoming year, to get an idea of what this year will look like for both of them. The boys will have a few days to get acquainted with the new grades, then we will be off to CT for a week.  Fortunately for us, we use a paperless curriculum that travels with us.  They have even been certified as a "green" program, for those who are environmentally conscious. :)

Time4Learning is completely online and not limited to one computer that it's been downloaded to or anything.  This means that not only can the boys access their lessons from pretty much ANY computer with an internet connection, but I can get into their reports to see their progress/grades and such as well!

Homeschooling can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be.  Thankfully we use a program that doesn't add to our chaotic life!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Field trip Photos...

Here are those pictures from our trip to the Atlanta History Center I promised you.  :)  There were several I wanted to share, but didn't want to post individually.  So I did the slideshow thing...enjoy! :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Homeschooling Benefit # 873 ...

Homeschool Days at area attractions!

I have to admit that I find myself pleasantly surprised at the number of local attractions that offer special homeschool days.  Most of these special days still cost money, but at a decently discounted rate.  On the rare occasion, you find one that is FREE.  And who has issues with free??

This past Monday we took advantage of one of those rare free days.  The Atlanta History Center (which has a normal admission of $16.50 per person!) was hosting a free open house for homeschoolers.  Tracy and I took our 4 boys to the big city for the day and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!  The history center was MUCH more than we expected.

We perused a wonderful Civil War exhibit, then had a quick lunch.  After that, we went outside to walk through the almost 30 acre estate.  We got to see an old farm house, complete with outside kitchen, as well as The Swan House.  The Swan House is a palatial mansion type home, with a fountain in their front yard (yes, the fountain is probably what the boys will remember most about the mansion, lol).  It had recently been restored (with original furnishings!) to look like it had when it was completed in the late 1920s, early 1930s.

After the tour of the home, we went back inside to the Olympic Games exhibit.  This was a remarkable showcase of everything that went on in Atlanta during the 1996 games!  There was also a neat little sports lab, where the boys got to try their hand at cycling, rowing and the long jump.

All in all, we were so pleased with our little homeschool trip and would look forward to going back.  Even after spending 5 hours there, there were a couple of exhibits we didn't get to.

Since this fabulous field trip landed on a Monday, the boys were concerned that their school for the week would be off.  Me, being the incredibly strict "teacher" than I am, TOTALLY counted the whole day as our school for the nothing had to be pushed back or rescheduled or doubled up or anything like that.  :D

Having said that, it was really nice for me to know that the curriculum we use is flexible and allows us to rearrange and make it work on OUR schedule.  We are entering our 4th year with Time4Learning and still couldn't be happier.  There are so many positive curriculum reviews about the grades the boys are entering, I rest a little easier (if that's even possible, lol).  I also enjoy the online parent community that T4L has to offer.  I can ask questions, I can answer questions and I can just have general conversation with other members.  It's wonderful...

I know this post really should have had some accompanying photos of our trip, but I had an issue with my Picasa account.  Grrr.  So...look for an additional post in the next day or so with some pics.  :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Geography, Traveling and Learnin'...

When we do geography lessons here, the boys are always pretty into it.  They seem to be genuinely interested in learning about other places, whether it's other states or other countries.  Generally, when they want to find out things like state capitals, the correct abbreviation, state flags and the like, they "Google" what they want to know. (The Googling thing is handy...I don't have to admit that I have no idea what the abbreviation is for Indiana, even though I should, lol.) 

Sometimes they want to know about homeschooling in other states.  Not often, but it does happen.  Usually when I'm filling out my attendance record.  They pop off with questions like "if we lived at the beach in Florida, would you still have to do that?"  While I am a big advocate of Googling for information, I really dislike having to cypher through a gazillion returned search results to find what I'm looking for.  Fortunately for me, our curriculum has a state homeschool information page, which makes it easy for me.  All I have to do is click on a state and I'll usually have several specific pages I can go to, so I can answer questions like that when they have them.

Why this interests them, I'll never know.  We have no plans to move, lol.  But there is always that "what if" in everyone's minds I suppose.  

As far as traveling goes, we don't do it often.  We go to Florida once a year, but we don't really get to see much of other states.  However, we are planning a trip in September to CT with friends and we are very excited about that. Well...almost everyone is excited.  The hubs has to work, so he's not going. :( It's going to be Tracy and myself taking the 4 boys.  The Bell's are from CT, so we are looking forward to meeting all of the family up north! 

Since the drive there will entail driving through several states that we have never been in before, you know we are going make it as educational as possible.  We are planning on having a big road atlas for the boys to look through, and I'd like to find some other things they can do in the car as we go through each state.  In the mean time, I am going to have them play some US state games.  This way they can become a little more familiar with the states, before we hit the road.

If anyone has any suggestions for traveling games, please feel free to share!! :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Big Birthday Weekend!!

This weekend was a busy one for everyone!  Since the boys' birthdays are 2 days apart, we always hold one big party for them.  We had that this weekend, albeit a little earlier than we normally would because we are attending a wedding next weekend. We had a house full of family and friends and we had a great time! We got see some friends that we hadn't seen in a long while, and it was really good to catch up.
ISO in her party outfit! :)

Marf! :)
EAO and her super shades! daughter, like mother?? ;)

Walter was the Master Chef, grilling burgers for everyone.  We had a good lunch, followed by a yummy chocolate, M&M cake. Then the boys' got to open gifts.  It really is kinda shameful to admit, but the boys are so spoiled rotten that they couldn't even think of anything they didn't already have to ask for in the way of presents.  So, they told everyone that they would like cash, so they would have some spending money when we go to Dragon*Con.  That seemed to work out for everyone, and the boys made out VERY well.  
Some of the kiddos eating lunch...
Chocolate on the inside, chocolate on the outside.  As it should be.  :)
"...Happy Birthday, Bailey and Braeden, Happy Birthday to you!"
A little gift opening...
After most of the party goers left, the Bell's and Mark stayed and we got to hang out some more.  We watched a decent movie while the boys were in their room watching TV/playing Wii. Zman got to have a sleepover with the eldest, and then we converged on the Bell's house on Sunday for more birthday fun.  Scott and Mr. X share a birthday with Braeden, while Mark's is just after theirs.  So we had a great spaghetti lunch and more cake for Scott, Mark and Mr. X.  All in all, a fabulous weekend spent with fabulous people!
Marf, Scott and Mr. X.
Pool time is always fun! :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Being Sick but Staying Busy...

Not this past week, but the week before, I spent the week sick.  This is after Bailey had been sick and Braeden was recovering from Strep and an ear infection.  Braeden finishes his antibiotic and, this past Sunday, starts having problems with his asthma.  Blarg.  When we went to the Doctor for that, we discovered that his right ear was STILL infected AND his left ear was now infected.  Awesome.  So, he is on another antibiotic and an oral steroid for his asthma.  Unfortunately, steroid = demonic possession for my wee one.  But, he is doing well and will be done with the drugs by Tuesday morning when we return to the Doctor and see how things are...

Even though there are about a billion positives when it comes to homeschooling, there are a couple of not-so-positives. One of those downsides?  It's really easy for us to get behind when we are sick, especially if one of the sick ones is me. When I'm laying on the couch, curled around a box of Kleenex and an empty bottle of Nyquil, it can be hard to be motivated to get up and help the boys.  I know, bad Mommy.  But it happens.  When it does, I try to find something that they can pretty much do unassisted.  Printable handwriting worksheets are good because my boys ALWAYS need to work on their handwriting.  Also, it gives me an opportunity to throw some spelling words at them.

If they get done with something like handwriting and I still want to occupy them without actually turning to school work, I turn to old reliable.  The computers. :D

Bailey is a pretty good typist if you ask me.  Almost too good, lol.  Braeden does well, but he's still on the 2 finger-hunt-and-peck speed.  So I can get them to work on some online keyboarding games for a little while.  They are still technically learning, they get their competitive face on, and they practice/pick up speed in typing.  Win-win for all of us!

So here I am, ending the week exhausted but thankful.  Even though I complain about ickies and sicklies here, I know that things could be much worse. I'm very thankful that they aren't!