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!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Crew Log: Week Two

The Crew has another week of hitting the books, in the books!  I'm really pleased so far with our curriculum choices for first grade... I was a little leary at the work load, but as usual the boys continue to be up for the challenge, and so we're forging ahead!   We've settled into a nice rhythm and our workload seems to be about 2 1/2 solid hours/day.  Once we start HomeConnection in September, that will bump our days to a solid 4 1/2-5 1/2 hours/day of school time.  It's going to be a busy fall and winter, but the classes at HC are so great, I just couldn't help myself when signing up last spring!

This week we finished up the last few lessons of our K math program... I had hoped to get this done over summer break, but 'summer fever' proved to be too much to overcome (my own case being quite severe!)  It has actually worked out well as a bit of 'review' before hitting our first grade material.  The Crew retained much of their math facts over the summer, but as usual it was money problems (specifically adding various coins together i.e.: nickels, dimes, and quarters) that proved to be the most challenging.  We've had a solid review and seem to be back on track!  We look forward to cracking open our new workbooks next week!

I won't go into specifics of all our subjects this week, but one of the highlights of our day continues to be our history program.  This week we focused on 'Early People' before farming and after farming came into play.  The Crew really enjoyed the story of "The First Dog", filling in their map of The Fertile Crescent, discovering the first irrigation tool used for farming (a Shaduf!), and doing some Cave Painting of their own.  Next week I believe the early egyptians make an appearance, and I know The Crew will love that as they are already fascinated by this bit of history!

As for the rest of the story... well, it's all there, but the specifics are not nearly as exciting as actively participating in the experience as it happens.  I'm constantly amazed by these boys.  They both have subjects they adore (and some that they are bit less enthused about) but they continue to rise to the challenges that learning new skills presents.  I love that we can have this experience together as a family, and am thankful to get the chance to do so!

Until next week...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

'Food' does not have to be a four letter word...

but for a long time it was. As a child, food was my friend! I found joy in it! How could anyone have anything but a healthy relationship with such a fabulous friend? What I didn't know was that in those days 'food' was not my only friend... its buddies 'metabolism', 'activity', and 'parental guidance' were there working quietly but diligently in the background. And so as a result, we were never at odds... it was a balanced and healthy relationship. All was well.

Toward the end of highschool 'Life' came crashing onto the scene. That 'rude awakening' my Dad had always forewarned me about had come to pass. 'Illness', 'Anger', 'Fear', 'Divorce' and 'Death' all filed into the room... 'Life' it seemed, hung with a pretty tough crowd. The timing could not have been worse. In those days I felt pretty alone... and really, in a way I was. My family was gone, scattered to the wind after a series of devastating blows. My friends had all moved on and left for distant college campuses, and at the time 'The Captain' was being kept busy by Uncle Sam a few time zones away. Thank God for my old buddy 'Food'! It was there to help medicate me, and I was more than willing to hook up the IV and let the medicine flow! And so I gained the 'College 15', the 'Stress 20', and please let's not forget about the 'Poor Me 50'! Suddenly the balance that I had was gone. Quickly my relationship with 'Food' soured. My friend had become my enemy! And so, like many battle with food began.

I could go on and on about the details of this bloody campaign. Oh the horror of binge eating! The fruitless attempts at battling back the muffin top! The pantry FULL of 'fat free' treats...(because 'fat free' must certainly also apply to myself if I eat enough of them right?) I needed a reality check. I needed to clean house. I needed to unplug the IV of processed 'fat free' carbs I was flooding into my system and go back to the basics! And that is just what I have done. Gone back to the basics. Eat Clean. Eat Whole. I love the tip "If your Great-Grandma were to hold it in her hand... would she know what the hell to do with it?" Think about that. All the processed food we eat and the many forms that it takes on as it's shaped, extruded, or manipulated by a group of chemists who are well paid by 'Big Food Inc.'  in a far off science lab...Great-Grandma would be one confused little old lady.

So we'll start there for now. My challenge to you is this: The next time you go shopping... shop like Great Grandma would have. You'll be amazed at what you do (& don't) bring home. Once you do that, we'll talk about the next challenge. Learning to love and actually crave Real Food!

Friday, August 19, 2011

First Week of First Grade!

The first week always throws me into a bit of a panic (and when I say 'always', I mean this year and last year I panicked... hardly the 'seasoned homeschool veteran' just yet!), and the few weeks leading up to this one were no different.  Did I pick the right curriculum?  Did I forget anything major... like Math??  Can I juggle this load with the two hours a day of HC classes I've signed them up for?  Will I ever wear clean clothes again??  And just like last year, once we found our rhythm and started our day, we were fine.  So, for the curious out there, here is our week... for the most part :)

Math:  We are continuing with Horizons this year.  I like the 'spiral' approach and although the boys might not need quite so much repetition, I appreciate that the foundation is being set for their basic math skills to be rock solid.  We did a bit of a 'review' this week of their K material and next week will officially start on their First Grade work.  This week we covered counting by 2's, 5's, 10's, & 25's to 100, ordinal numbers, of course addition and subtraction from 1-100, days, weeks, months, seasons, currency problems using pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half dollars, and of course dollars, bar graphs, tally marks, and story problems (to name a few...) Although this sounds like quite a laundry list, remember this was 'review' so it wasn't too difficult for The Crew to accomplish.  In fact, I received quite a few 'this is so easy Mom' comments.  I'll try to up my game next week...careful what you wish for kiddos!

Phonics:  We are more than 3/4's of the way thru with our phonics program, and although it would be easy to 'quit' since the boys are reading grade 3 & 4 material, I still feel it's important to finish the program so we don't stumble onto any knowledge gaps in the future.  It was a solid week, and each lesson was finished quickly as it's not really a stretch for them at this point.  This week we worked on the different emphasis' of syllables, the 'LE', 'ER endings and clapping out the vowel sounds in each word to count the syllables out. 

Grammar:  This is a new curriculum we're using called First Language Lessons and so far I'm quite pleased with it.  We reviewed what a phonogram was and tested for each letter.  The boys (due to their reading skills) passed thru this quickly.  We memorized a poem thru the week and took turns reciting it to Dad last night.  No fumbles, no stumbles.  We learned about common nouns and proper nouns, and completed four entries into our narration journals.  The Crew really digs the narration, and are doing well on this skill.  Shouldn't surprise me with the amount of talking they do to one another...very descriptive little boys.

Handwriting:  Working on our first grade workbooks and two sentences of copywork from either their narration or directly from the reader we're using daily.  They grumble a bit by the end, but usually give their hand a good shake and wrap it up well.  Letter stroke patterns were remembered well from the summer break which is a nice surprise for me.  I thought I would have to spend a bit of time on that one, but not so much!  Hurrah!

Reading:  Our first reader this week was 'Clara and the Bookwagon' (level 2 reader).  The Crew read two chapters a day out loud to me and then we discussed the story and entered their narration exercise into their journals.  The second reader we are on now is 'A Long Journey' about swedish emigrants coming to America in the 1800's. (level 3 reader). 

History/Geography: We started Story of the World and have focused on the Introduction of History and Archaeology this week.  We also have managed one project, A Family History project where The Crew interviewed myself and The Captain on where we were born, our family etc.  Today we finish up with an 'dig' in our back garden.  I have a load of items buried in the dirt out back and sectioned off with twine and popsicle sticks.  Plan on having our dig this afternoon when the fog burns off :)  Looking forward to the rest of this program.  I really love it!  As for Geography, we have read our 'People Around the World' book each day and placed the countries it mentioned on the map as well as finding Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Norway on the map from our reading.    I always learn a bit in our Geography lesson as well, so this is a fun one for me too.

For those of you that are concerned about the fine arts or phys. ed., fear not!  When our HC classes start up, these subjects will be more than covered... and then some!  I plan on posting some pics of our archaeological dig later and will update the post with them this weekend. Until then...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Fitness Obsession... Volume I

I am obsessed with p90x. It's embarassing really... I mean, a workout that's sold late at night on an informercial that seems to run on a never ending loop isn't really going to work, right? I may as well really check my self-respect at the door and order the 'Shake Weight' or 'Belly Burner' while I'm at it. Or honestly, let's just forego the whole fitness thing and order a complete set of the 'Pajama Jean' and call it a night!

Let me just give a little background here. Prior to moving to our little island I was religiously devoted to my local YMCA. I would drop The Crew off at childwatch and hop onto the nearest treadmill to bang out my standard 5k run in front of Matt Lauer and Company before ambling over to the dreaded weight training area (aka: Muscle Beach or Man Zone) to lift some 5 lb weights spastically in front of the mirror for a few minutes. By the time I was back home and showered I had used up at least two hours of my day and my kids had invariably brought home another case of 'snot nose' (or worse).

A few things started to happen at around this point in time. First, I had hit a major fitness plateau. I hadn't lost weight in months, and I although I could bang out a 5k routinely, I did not have that 'runners body' that I so coveted. Second, my children were becoming increasingly too old to hang in childwatch and have any level of fun. I could tell I was pushing the limits one day when I looked around while dropping them off and realized the only other children there were all in highchairs arranged in a tight semi-circle around a small t.v. that had Barney playing on a never ending loop. The Crew had this weary/resigned look on their faces and had started to ask on a regular basis how long my workouts were going to take.  And finally, we had received orders and were going to be moving again soon. I didn't know what fitness options would be available to me here, but I did know that any childwatch scenario would pretty much play out in the same way... with the small possibility of a Baby Einstein video playing rather than Barney. 

So I took a chance, swallowed my pride, and actually phoned the number flashing on the screen one late night.  Best. Decision. Ever.

Now lest you think I am trying to sell you something, let me assure you I am NOT in any way getting paid for this post.  Fast forward a full year with nearly five rounds of P90x under my belt, I find myself increasingly being fielded questions like "What's your routine?" or "How do you stay motivated?" or "What is Clean Eating?" by other mom's who have become frustrated with their routines and/or are ready for a lifestyle change.  I have not become a 'Beachbody Coach' (despite the multiple offers of other 'Coaches' trying to sign me up.)  I'm really not interested in that.  The last thing I need right now is another venture to take on.  No, this has nothing to do with me making money and everything to do with me wanting to answer the questions that I find myself being asked by these Moms who are just as busy, just as tired, and just as in search of answers as I was.  So I've decided to add a category here on my blog to answer any questions you might have and also to explain some of the choices I've made for myself in the last few years.
For full disclosure I'm putting up my 'Before & After' pics.  I wish I had some earlier shots of myself before starting on my fitness journey post-pregnancy, but like any self-respecting mother with baby weight to lose I managed to destroy all photographic evidence of my situation rather than put the damn donut down and start moving!  Be kind... I am still a work in progress :)

Some quick stats, as it may be hard to tell from the photos... I have lost 12 lbs. and gained quite a bit of muscle.  First tip?  Take measurements on Day 1, I wish I had! 

Monday, August 15, 2011

The stage is set...

Although in our part of the world it doesn't seem as if summer has truly even started (less than a handful of days have topped out over 72 degrees here... really??), we're heading into our first grade studies here at home!  Today we start with our new schedule (part of which you can see written out on the markerboard) and in a few weeks we'll start our enrichment programs at HomeConnection.  I thought some of you might like to see what our learning room looks like... it's a work in progress!

Just one last shot of the boys playing one of their favorite games... They love the fact that all the different pieces have their own moves or "powers", and I love that they spend a few minutes "unplugged" in the day!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The tide has shifted... yet again.

Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes. ~Henry David Thoreau

I have friends all over the world. Some are literally on other continents, and many more are several time zones away. I've met them all under differents circumstances and in different 'seasons' of my life. Some I have known since childhood, some I share hazy memories of college life with, others I met in the early child-free days of our military life, and even more I have met since having children. I love them all, and I do my best to try and keep touch over the distance with them... to maintain the connection that drew us together in the first place. I have to admit though, it's not the same. I miss spending time with each of them. I miss their laughs, their smiles, and their points of view. I want to share a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with them and talk about our children and our lives. I want to say "Come on over" when I hear they're having a rough day. I want to be in their lives and not just an observer.  For me this is one of the hardest experiences of being a military spouse.  To have so many friends, and yet to feel so alone at times.  Today is one of those days.  I met a woman just about 10 months ago.  We forged an instant bond that took us both a bit by surprise.  It was like I knew her the  minute I met her and she in turn completely understood me as well.  Today, she and her family leave the military and are heading to the east coast to begin their new lives in their new home.  I miss her already.  I know I'll be calling often and I hope that one day we'll be close enough to visit each other fairly easily... but somehow it just doesn't seem to be enough.

My friend, travel safe and may you always have

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Tooth Fairy Cometh... Again!

The Crew has started to lose their teeth. As you know, this is a common enough occurence aboard ship, but I assure you it has nothing to do with scurvy or a general lack of good hygiene and/or personal care. No, it seems that once again I'll be called into duty to attempt the impossible. My mission? To gain access (without detection) into my boys room (we'll call it 'the spider hole' as it's booby trapped with various toys that either light up/emit loud explosions/talk at concert level decibels or a combination of all three.) in the dead of night ...If you know me, you know that this is a task that I've avoided at all costs since early on in their lives. I've never been the 'Snuggle Mom'... you know, the Mom who snuggles up next to their child cooing softly and stroking the hair of their precious angel until they drift off to dreamland? Ya, I found out early that twins... well they keep score...on everything.

"Mom! Will you stroke my hair EXACTLY like you stroked his?" "Mom! I want you to read me that EXACT same story and kiss me goodnight EXACTLY like you did him!" I long ago gave up those dreams I had about rocking my children to sleep... Nope. I was more the "toss 'em swaddled in the general direction of their crib and seal the door closed with a large stone" kind of Mom. On rare occasions I would be required to gain access to the room before morning, and so I became adept at the kind of stealth and evasive maneuvering skills that Seal Team 6 currently employs with such great success. I have to admit... its been awhile since I've had to use said skills, but recently I've found myself being called to duty once more. All thanks to a little legend called the "Tooth Fairy". It was just a few weeks ago that 'Operation Fairy' was initiated. As of this morning I was informed by my boy that Round II is imminent.

I'm going in later tonight... Pray for me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Can I ask Why?

This is the question that the majority of my friends ask most often after hearing that I homeschool The Crew.  "Why?" and "Don't you want/need a break?" are often the first two questions that are lobbed my way followed by an incredulous "You couldn't pay me to do that!".  Now, I understand where they're coming from... not only do I understand it, but often as I hear the 'big yellow bus' pull up to the corner right outside our door I find myself wondering "Why do I do this?".  And as the bus rumbles to a stop and the neighborhood offspring start piling on,  I  will often slide into a daydream about what life must be like on the 'other side'.  Just like my friends who have pre-conceived notions about how I'm ruining my kids for life by homeschooling them, I'm sure that I have grossly exaggerated fantasies about the amount of spa time, mani & pedi's, and massages that I could be fitting into my non-homeschooling schedule ( it is a daydream after all!) By the time the sound of squealing hydraulics rouse me from my thoughts of sliced cucumbers, I've usually put aside the idea of a 'brick and mortar' education for the millionth time (give or take).  And once the sound of gears grinding down the street has faded, I'm once again recommited to the path we've chosen.   a) because I really don't have the time to be staring slack jawed out my kitchen window and b) because I know deep down that I couldn't do it.  The reasons for b) are varied and quite numerous, but ultimately it comes down to the fact that what we're doing works for us.  The Crew is thriving.  They are far beyond where they need to be for entering first grade.  In several subjects they are well into second and third grade work (shameless brag!).  They have friends.  Alot of friends.  They are not shy.  They are not awkward.  And I haven't ruined them...yet.  Ultimately in the end I think we all have to do what we feel is in the best interest of our families.  What is for you, may not be for me.  What is for me, may not be for you.  Neither of us is right, and neither of us is wrong.  We're just choosing different paths. 

I wish you luck on the course you've charted... and I hope you'll do the same for us!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The tide brings in... over a year worth of bottles?

what's this?  a post?  could it be this long abandoned little blog is coming back to life? it's true!!  our little band of weary sailors has crossed the country in yet another move (over a year ago already!) and our adventures have continued on as well!  so why, you may ask, why come back to this little blog?  Well, there is just so much to share with you, and tho' I have a brand new biz ( visit me @ ) and tho' I have a lovely little blog associated with said 'biz', I find that there is so much more of our lives that I want to share with my friends and family that *ahem* may or may not be quite appropriate to share with my clientele. 

So if you are here, it is because you are interested in not only my AMAZING photographic talents, but also because you are interested in our lives... our adventures... and our experiences as an active duty military/homeschooling family.   

Welcome to the chaos...but don't forget to take your shoes off  before coming aboard!