Charting our own course...

In days of old, sailors would keep a journal while at sea to chronicle their lives as they travelled the world in search of adventure... and perhaps an ounce or two of treasure. In this spirit, our family has also set its own course. My husband's career as a naval aviator keeps us travelling to distant shores... adventures await with every new 'port 'o call' we visit! Because of our nomadic lifestyle we have also embarked upon the adventure of homeschooling our twin boys, age 6 (aka: The Crew). The Crew started their 2nd grade work on 06 Aug 2012. I hope you'll enjoy our story as we chart our own course thru life and set sail on new adventures... gathering our stories and treasure along the way.

Fair Winds and Following Seas my friends!

Friday, September 7, 2012

So here's what I tried this week...



So in order to try and make time for more 'tents, forts, and fun', I decided to approach planning our school day a bit differently.  Instead of cramming an hour of work in before leaving for swimming (or whatever else I've scheduled The Crew for), I've left everything this week to wait until we've returned home, had our lunch, and digested our food for a bit. At this point, we head upstairs for two or three subjects and then take a 20 minute break (to be spent as The Crew pleases with the one caveat that it be 'sans tech').  We then repeat this process until all our work for the day is done.  I have to say, the difference is Uh-May-Zing!  Not only did the day go smoother, the work better, and the attention span lengthen, but The Crew seemed to like it better too! (thank you, thank you...I'm here all week.)  All kidding aside, though our day of schooling lasts longer (typically until 4:30'ish), we all seem to be in a better mood, and I'm sold on making it our new 'normal'... whatever that is.

So I've been doing the above schedule now for two weeks... perhaps the longer school day is somehow connected to this lag?  Anyway, I'm still in love with our new approach to school, and although the whole dinner/laundry/groceries/housekeeping thing is still a bit of a challenge, I can see a real difference in The Crew's energy levels and how they approach their schoolwork.  They are much more relaxed and open to their lessons after having twenty minutes to burn the edge off the never ending supply of energy 7 year old boys each come equipped with.  Of course, it wouldn't be 'Life' if there weren't a few hurdles still left to clear.  Next week our HomeConnection courses begin, which will add an additional two (plus) hours to our daily schedule.  I'm keeping an open mind... which for this Type A is a pretty big step!  I'm sure it will all come together eventually... most likely right around the time we move across the country.  Again, one. step. at. a. time.

Fair Winds! 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Time stops for no Mom...

This past weekend, my husband and I logged several miles of running.  Not in the way you would automatically assume.  I'm not the type to enter 5k's or marathons (though I reserve the right to do so in the future).  No, this was a weekend devoted to that childhood right of passage of 'learning to ride a bike'. As I jogged along behind my sons with one hand resting lightly on the seat of their bike, I remembered my own joy the day that I finally coasted down the driveway of my childhood home.   I remember that feeling of triumph and pure joy, as I steered my pink Huffy (Thunder Rose... she was a beauty!) down and around the tight curve of our drive.  It's a moment forever etched in my mind, and the look of pride that I saw in my mom's eyes as she obligingly watched me perform this new skill (over and over) is one that I've never forgotten.

More than once during this past weekend, I felt the tug of those memories and knew that I was in the midst of one of the most important moments that my boys will have from their childhood.  I held my breath as I watched each of them wobble awkwardly for a moment and then I swear to you, my heart stopped in that space of time in which they each found their balance and pedaled away.  All at once, I saw them as babies, taking their first hesitant steps...  and at the same time,  another image took shape.  I saw them as young men sitting in a packed car and pulling away from our future home as they head out and into the world.  My heart took a painful and awkward lurch as it started beating again, and then burst with pride as I was jolted back to the here and now... watching my boys ride like they had been doing it their whole lives.  It was a weekend, and a memory that I will cherish always.   Once again, I'm so grateful to the Lord for allowing me to experience the joy of being their mom.

Fair Winds...
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Monday, August 20, 2012

The Universe is fed up.


I'm a 'Type A' person.  This is a really just a nice way of saying "A person who can't relax...ever."  I'm really guilty of this on several different levels, but the level that it seems to create the most problems in, is our homeschooling.  I hop out of bed each morning, guzzle some coffee and BCAA's, hop into my workout session, spring into the shower, scream thru my 'get pretty' routine, and then land on the threshold of our homeschooling room as if it's the beach of Normandy.  All I'm missing is a flag to plant and a battle cry... really, it's that bad.  It's at this point that I'm usually under the gun to leave the house in t-minus 60 minutes and counting, so I launch The Crew straight into their lessons and away we go.  I have to give them credit.  They answer the call to arms, every. single. time.  They do their best and settle right into their work.  They move from item to item with the efficiency of a well-trained soldier... I should be thrilled.  Except... (yes, there's that word) Except, that's not what I originally had envisioned or hoped our homeschooling experience would be. (at all) Something (or Someone) has to change, and I'll just state the obvious here and admit that it's not The Crew. 

It seems The Universe agrees.  In the last week, several... shall we call them hints? gentle nudges? swift kicks in the???  have presented themselves to me, and forced me to take notice of the situation I have created.  First, I was perusing the homeschooling boards over at WellTrainedMind.com, and amid the normal chatter was a post about what a fellow homeschooling mom was hoping to accomplish this year.  Thinking it might have a mountain to conquer that I had inadvertantly left off my own battle plan, I clicked on the topic and read her top ten list. 

The first item was:  "Build more tents & forts". 

Wait, what?  Tents and forts, tents and forts, I frantically flipped thru the pages of my "To Do" list (don't judge) and realized that not a single fort or tent had been scheduled.  Item number two was just as shocking:

"Play More Games."  (uh-oh)

The list went on:

"More Read Alouds & Cuddle Time"  (dammit!)
"Less Computer Time" (now wait just a minute here... no Facebook?!)
"Less Research of curriculum" (but let me just look at this last math sample...)
"More laughter and joy in the little things" (hmm, what's that your saying?  In a minute.. my sample is downloading)
"More patience." (Right, right... why is it taking so long to download this %^&*% thing!?!?)
"Less focus on finishing and more focus on enjoying the process of learning." (oh.  Now that one stung a bit.)
"Speak more encouragement" (I do this one!  Excuse me while I do my happy dance...)
"Enjoy this time... it is not going to last forever, you NITWIT!" (okay, I added the nitwit part, but really it fits pretty perfectly.)

Soooo, I was feeling a bit down after reading that list.  It stuck with me.  To the point that I copied it down word for word (oooo, look another list!) and put it in our schoolroom as a gentle reminder in those moments that I feel I might be losing sight of the real goal.  I even pinned it on our board and walked away feeling as if I had accomplished something... but not really sure what.

Fast forward a couple of days to me perusing Facebook (I said don't judge) and finding a "pin" from a wonderful friend of mine who is obsessed with active with Pinterest.  She pinned a blog link among her daily pins.  Normally her interests are more along the lines of  baking or crafting, but occasionally she'll find some great parenting tips or sites that she passes along as well.  This time she pinned a link to a blog called "Hands Free Mama", and the name caught my attention.  So I clicked on the link, and that's when it happened... The Universe reached out, slapped me sideways, and said "WAKE UP!".  Apparently a sign tacked onto my bulletin board was not enough for The Universe.  (In my opinion, The Universed might be a little "Type A" too...)

Rather than try and tell you about it, I really think it's best that you go check it out.  Be prepared for a bit of a gut check while reading... I had more than one occur.  Ultimately I hope to be more mindful of the people that I care about most in my life, and to start letting them know more often, and in more ways, and well just more.

www.handsfreemama.com

Fair Winds!



Friday, August 17, 2012

Grade 2, Week 2


It's been a busy week.  Swim lessons are currently on summer schedule, which means four lessons in a week instead of two.  I made the mistake of signing up for a 10 a.m. lesson, thinking that would give me plenty of time each morning.  Obviously the lazy days of summer caused a sort of temporary amnesia about what one can accomplish before 10 a.m.   We managed to make it, but were diverted on Monday by a doctor appointment for one of The Crew.  I'm not quite sure, but it seems he may have inheirited my migraine issues.  Last night he had what I would consider to be a full fledged migraine (light sensitivity and located on one side behind his eye), and I'm no longer willing to continue with the  'wait and see' approach of our current doctor.  I have another appointment scheduled for next week in which I plan on asking for (aka demanding) a referral to a pediatric neourologist.   Keep us in your thoughts!!

As for our school work, we managed to complete everything that I had scheduled, with the exception of our science experiment.  I was out of eggs and didn't really want to add a trip to the store on top of everything else, so we skipped it.  Other than that, everything went really well.  Today, The Crew took their first math test of the year... each of them scoring perfect scores!!  A second quiz in science (also perfect scores... thank you, thank you), and a full review of spelling before launching into AAS2 next week.  This week in history, we finished up with Julius and Cleopatra (... ahhhh, amore!) and are getting ready to move into the middle ages soon.  The boys are also currently reading a chapter a day from Encyclopedia Brown, have memorized their first poem of the year already, and worked on identifying action, state of being, and linking verbs in a sentence.  We're still on target with about 3 hours/day of curriculum work and once their HC classes start in September, our days will be very busy. 

I wanted this post to be a bit more personal this week, but I also wanted to get this up fo rthe week.  Coming soon... My feelings on yet another impending military move.

Fair Winds!


Friday, August 10, 2012

First Week!



Our first week of second grade is officially 'in the books'!  We managed to stay on track this week and put in five very solid days of work... I still can't quite believe it!  Admittedly I took on a bit more than usual for our first week back.  Normally I like to settle into our core subjects (math, reading, handwriting) for a week or two and then add in language arts, science, history, geography etc. as we get our groove back.  This year I had scheduled swim lessons for The Crew and unwittingly signed them up for the M,T,W,Th morning lessons.  This meant we needed to be out of the house and on our way to the pool by 10:15 a.m. Each. Morning. This. Week.   Have I mentioned how brilliant of a scheduler I am??

 So I dove (ha ha) right back into our pre-summer schedule of getting up bright and early at 6 a.m  (for my sanity workout), getting myself showered, rousing The Crew for breakfast and getting dressed for the day, packing our swim bag, and then heading upstairs for a solid hour of school work from 9-10.  After coming home, it was a half hour of free time before lunch, eat lunch, and head back upstairs to finish the rest of our work.  Usually we were finished with our book work by 2pm. Then, because I buy into the whole sunshine and exercise thing, I made it a point to hustle us all out the door and to a nearby park for some playtime.  About an hour of that and then we came back home for me to get dinner prepped and some housework done while The Crew had some quiet reading time (currently they're each reading a book from The Magic Treehouse series).  After a quick review of what they'd read (usually in the form of a quick narration of the chapter) our school day is FINALLY complete! This week we averaged just shy of three hours/day for our bookwork, not including quiet reading, park time, swimming etc.  I think that's right on par for second grade... Hurrah!!

All in all, I'm really pleased with the fact that our first week went so well and  that it's done...  I hope that by the time we move in the early part of 2013 that we'll have completed a solid 18 weeks of our school year... because I know we'll be taking an extended break during what will be The Crew's fifth? cross country move.  (Five moves in seven years... yup, I think they are officially military brats ;)

Fair Winds!