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!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hey You! Get Outta' My Way!


I was browsing the internet yesterday, and I stumbled upon a fitness blog in which the author wrote about 'getting out of your own way' to obtain your goals. 

Confession #1:  My most current fascination/hobby is body building... I do what I can from home, but I know I'll never really hit my goals unless I go to a gym and sign on with a personal trainer.  Currently with my other obsessions of photography (I have a small lifestyle photography business that I wish I could devote more of my time to) and homeschooling The Crew, it's hard to picture how I can possibly make it all happen. 

Confession #2:  I'm one of those people with a bucket list a mile long.  Including but not limited to:  competing in a fitness competition, writing/publishing a novel, making a real go of my photography business when we finally settle into our 'forever home', travel Europe etc. etc. etc.  Sometimes the frustration I feel about the obstacles in my way are almost palpable.  My other lifestyle choices (aka military life and homeschooling) seem to cause direct conflict with my other dreams.  But do they really?  Or is that just an excuse that I tell myself in order to make my lack of progress on my bucket list easier to deal with?  Am I really just guilty of getting in my own way?

It's hard to imagine giving up one thing in order to accomplish another.  I remind myself that life is full of 'seasons'.  That there will come a time in which we aren't packing up and moving cross country on a regular basis.  That homeschooling will be something I did rather than something I do.  That these other dreams will have their time and that I just need to be patient.  All good things come to those who wait, right??  Unfortunately, I have also had enough expereince with loss in my life to know that sometimes tomorrow doesn't come.  That nothing, especially more time, is guaranteed.   

Confession #3: I'm turning 40 next spring.  There's no time like the present I guess... it looks like I'm going to need come up with a solution.  Move over me, I'm coming thru!




Monday, August 6, 2012

The Crowd Goes Wild


The proverbial bottle has smashed upon the hull of our school year.  It's official.  The first day of 2nd grade is now in the books.   I started the day nice and early with a cup of coffee followed up by my daily routine of lifting heavy things and putting them back down.  After I mopped myself off the floor and downed some breakfast, we headed upstairs and got down to business.  We follow a bit of a routine with the order in which we do our core subjects.  Math is always first.  It takes the longest amount of time, the highest amount of concentration, and the most amount of patience to do it right... so it's where I like to start.  Today was evaluation and review day.  I thought The Crew would struggle a bit after such a long break, but yet again they remind me that they get their math skills from their father by blowing thru the evaluation test and completing their first lesson in record time.

 "The gold medal goes to... the Crew!  Better luck next time disheveled woman with damp hair!"

So on to language arts (grammar, narration, spelling, phonics, & copywork), and reading before it was time to suit up for the boys' morning swim lessons at city pool.  We actually left the house on time without the usual chaos...

"A nice recovery from the woman in black who still looks a bit out of sorts, but who has managed to tame her somewhat questionable hairstyle with multiple headbands and clips!"

The boys did great with their new swim instructors and swam the entire lesson in the deep end of the pool while practicing various stroke techniques... better watch it Mr. Phelps.  We've got our eye some of that gold hardware you're so partial to! 

Then it was back home for the rest of our reading, have some lunch, a bit of free time, and finally to head back upstairs to finish out our core subjects.  First, how 'bout a little review of ancient civilizations, hmmm?  What, it's only starting from 10,000 years ago (give or take a century or two)... no problem!  Once that was complete we broke the seal on our new science curriculum by talking a bit about the planet Earth, it's layers, the atmosphere, etc.  The boys each wrote out a quick review of the lesson in their student workbooks, cut out a planet earth diagram and colored it's different sections.  We then hit our U.S. Fun Facts workbook and spent some time focusing on Fairbanks, Alaska and the Northern Lights as well as the interesting days and nights they experience thru the year.  After a little personal reading time we were done for the day...  So off we went to the local Fro-Yo for a celebratory treat for a day well done!

"And the crowd goes wild!  The frantic woman with hair issues nails her routine!  Noone saw this coming!  A perfect first day... the crowd is going wild!....She did it!  She did it!  She did it!!!!"

1 down, 179 to go.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Do you have a goal?


I often think of that line from the movie Pretty Woman... "Do you have a goal?  'Cause you need to have a goal... You just can't turn tricks forever."   If you look past the fact that this is a conversation happening between two hookers, it's actually always struck me as pretty good advice.  You gotta have a goal.  Something to work toward when you're somewhere in the middle and you start to lose sight of why you started whatever you're doing in the first place.  Tomorrow we start our second grade year.  I thought it might be a nice time to write out some personal goals for the upcoming school year.  So that when I'm in the midst of the craziness, I can look back and remember what it is that I'm doing it all for.  This year is bound to be full of challenges... The biggest being a scheduled cross-country move just after the new year.  Already I can see all sorts of challenges that we're going to have to overcome due to this.  I need a goal.  A light thru the fog.  Something to aim for... so here we go.

1) Keep my focus on what really matters... it is not really necessary for my seven year old children to dissect a pigs heart.  If it fits into the schedule, fine.  If it's going to make me crazy to get them to the dissection, then I really need to give it a big ol' pass.  Keep focus on what's important.  Besides, they'll have plenty of time for that pig heart later!

2) Learn to say no (and not rake myself over the coals for having said it!).  This is a big one.  I tend to over commit myself, and then end up stressing out over keeping that commitment.  The key to doing everything well, is to not try and do everything!

3) Enjoy the small moments.  I'm pretty good at this, but it's still a nice goal to have :)

4) Stop making lists.  They'll make you crazy.

Fair Winds!


Friday, August 3, 2012

The path less travelled...



 It was a beautiful day. We played. We learned. We enjoyed life. Maybe August has more to offer than I thought :)  Cheers!



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New habits?

   Today is August 1st.  For some reason I have never been a fan of August.  Despite the fact that we were married in August (14 years this month!), I have always viewed it as a pretty boring month.  No major holidays to celebrate, and summer is starting to feel like a worn out flip flop.  The grill has been fired up (repeatedly), s'mores have been toasted and consumed (even more repeatedly!), and the dog days of summer are upon us.  Typically I start the school year after the first week... Mostly because I'm a bit of a Christmas freak and I love to take that time off from our official schedule and really immerse ourselves in enjoying the season of Christmas.  So that in itself tends to give even more of a 'funs over!' vibe to this month. 
Each year I find myself taking a deep breath as the calendar flips over to August.  I was in the midst of taking that deep breath this morning when it occured to me that it's really pretty ridiculous to give into this attitude each year.  I think instead that I should flip my attitude about August...make peace with it, at the very least be civil to it!  So I'm trying a new tactic.  I'm going to try new things with the boys this month.  Go out of my way to get off the beaten path... look for new things to do.  New recipes to try for dinner.  Try to enjoy the last days of summer rather than writing them off so quickly.  Today I'm driving out of my way to go to a different park for the afternoon.  Not exactly earth shattering, but I'm pretty guilty of heading out the door to the same park on nice days because it's so convenient.  Well, convenient = boring.  It's time to switch things up.  See what adventures await... develop some new habits.  I'll keep you posted!

Fair Winds Friends!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Enough said.

I second guess my decision to homeschool all the time.  There, I said it.  I wonder if I'm enough.  Not just in general, but across the board.  Am I patient enough?  Smart enough?  Organized enough?  Have I researched curriculums enough?  Do I have enough planned?  Enough language arts?  Enough science?  Enough history?  Enough math?  Enough reading?  Do my boys get enough time with kids their age?  Is swimming, tae kwon do, and soccer enough?  Should I add more?  Can I add more?  When is enough... well, enough?

I struggle with all of this on a daily basis.  I wonder why I should struggle with this.  Why I've taken this all on.  I'm not anti-public school.  I actually had a really wonderful experience in school as a child.  If my current situation were different, I believe I would have my children in public school.  But, that's not the case.  We're a military family.  Since my boys were born, we've moved four times (with another scheduled in less than 6 months).  I worry about consistency in their education.  It's no secret that states vary in their public school success rates.  We have lived in states with excellent reputations, and we have lived in states that are at the absolute bottom of the list.  I don't want my boys to fall thru the cracks because of this.  I don't want our current lifestyle to create gaps in their education.  I want them to have, on some level, the consistency that I had as a child.  I want them to have the best.  I go around and around on each facet of my decision to homeschool on a weekly basis.  I wonder, when I will convince myself that I am enough?

I do have glimpses of it.  There are moments when all of my self-doubts are chased away... I see my boys reading a book together, playing with other children, and being confident in themselves.  They are curious, intelligent, giving, charismatic, and generous little boys.  And when they look at me, my heart knows that in their eyes I am not 'just' enough... I am everything they need. 

And that is most definately enough.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Take Two...

So, that didn't work out quite the way I had hoped.  I've come to this realization... When your husband is deployed, don't make any promises about doing ANYTHING!  Especially blogging.   Deployment was as stressful as one might think it would be.  We kept very busy with our schoolwork, classes at HC, swimming, tae kwon do, and meeting up with friends.  There were also moments of sadness as we said good-bye to two families that we had become quite close with, and of course spent several holidays feeling the absence of Daddy more keenly than average.  I won't lie.  The early winter months were hard, but we managed to pull ourselves through the end of May and FINALLY my husband's deployment ended in the early hours of the morning June 1st, 2012.  Since then we have been enjoying our time together as a family.   At the end of June we took a once in a lifetime family vacation on the Disney Fantasy to the eastern carribean (AMAZING!), and in July went camping for one night before being completely rained out (DISASTER!).  We are now quickly approaching the end of another summer vacation while anticipating the start of the new school year ahead.  The Crew will start their 2nd grade work on August 6, and while I have a bit of orgnanizing to do, most of the curriculum is prepared and ready to go!  And of course, it just wouldn't be 'normal' if we didn't have a move scheduled to happen in the midst of everything... I'll know more soon, but it looks as if another cross-country move is on tap for sometime between November and January. 
With all of that being said, I've come to realize that I really would like to make this blog a more consistent part of my life.  In the past I've treated it like something I was doing for others... friends, family etc. and while I'm more than happy to share my life with anyone whose interested, I also just really want to write this for myself.  So that when I look up and my kiddos are grown, I'll have this 'journal' to look back on and remember the details... I may ramble more.  The spelling and grammar may not be perfect.  It might even bore you a bit.  But it will be all me, all the time.
Fair Winds!



Saturday, January 7, 2012

Goodbyes and New Beginnings...



Big deeeep breath.  Yes, it has been months since I last took time for a personal blog.  It has been a whirlwind few months.  So much has happened... Where to start?  The beginning I suppose?  The boys have been busy with the school work here at home as well as their classes at HomeConnection.  We went into our holiday break on schedule having completed 17 solid weeks of  home curriculum.  We took a well deserved two week break for Christmas and the New Year and have completed our first week back (this last week) with our core subjects and HC classes.  This week I plan to be up and running at 100% for our home subjects and press full steam ahead into springtime. 

The two weeks we took for the holidays was well needed.  My mom (aka 'Mimi') was here for a 10 day visit.  She helped so much with making the holiday seem more of a celebration this year. For those who don't know, 'The Captain' has been deployed with his squadron (as of 12/1) and won't be home again until early next summer.  Unfortunately, saying 'good-bye' to Daddy was not the only good-bye we were forced to say this December.  Just a week after The Captain left for deployment we received the sad news that his father (Grandpa) had passed away unexpectedly.  The news was a shock for everyone.  We will miss him and his loving presence in our lives always.   He was a truly devoted father and grandfather.  His passing has only reiterated to me that there is no guarantee of a 'tomorrow'.  That you need to hold on tight to today, and tell those that you love how important they are to you.  That you need to slow down, take in the small moments of life, and be thankful for the time you have been given. 

I don't often make resolutions at the new year anymore, but given the timing of his passing, I think it appropriate to make the commitment to be more aware of my life... to open my eyes to the amazing blessings that surround me daily... to hold onto memories and record them as they happen.  I hope that this blog will be just one of the ways in which I can do this.