Monday, October 19, 2015

The Great Outdoors!

This past weekend we set out on our first family camping trip. We have camped in tents in the back yard before, but that is WAY different than camping  away from the comforts of my home. :)

To start with, the kids were OVERLY excited (to put it mildly) when we told them what we were doing this weekend. We weren't sure if they would be able to actually concentrate on their school work on Friday due to the pent-up excitement!  We hit the road about noon Friday and made our way to Paul B. Johnson camp ground in Mississippi. Once we were checked in, it was obvious that we were the minority in the camp ground. EVERY camp site was an RV except for maybe 3! We couldn't believe that there were so many people RV camping and not as many tent camping. Personally, I don't blame them though! RV camping is actually appealing to me. 

Our campsite before we start the fire. 

Glen took this opportunity to teach the kids how to build a fire. Needless to say, pine straw and pine cones were the main ingredient to the fire as soon as they learned how quickly they burn!

We enjoyed a few rounds of Uno before bed. 

This fire was great for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows Friday night! The kids quickly learned how to appreciate their hard work and how the fire helped provide us dinner. 

Saturday morning was quite chilly when we woke up. We heard the kids get out of their tents so we started to get dressed. When we got out of our tent, we saw them building the fire so  Glen could light it. We were impressed by their willingness to get it started. 

Glen helped cook the pancakes and sausage over our propane stove. This little stove was great for cooking breakfast and lunch.

Our little Pyro's! 

On one of our walks, we came across this mama goose who had made a nest in a tree. She did not like us being there, so I quickly snapped a picture and we got out of her way.

Needless to say, these pictures do not do it justice. It was beautiful there!

When we went on the nature hike we found some animal prints. We tried to track them but they disappeared into the woods. 

To help make the nature hike fun, I gave the kids a list of items they had to find on the hike. They love scavenger hunts so this helped make the hike a little more exciting for them. 

A little friend we found near the end of the hike.

We had a great and relaxing weekend. I did survive and I even told Glen that I would go again under 1 condition- I must have an air mattress or cot to sleep on next time :)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

8 inches GONE!

Over a year and a half ago Makenzie heard a story of a little girl her age who had cancer and had to wear a wig. She asked me how the wigs were made and I told her. She then decided that she wanted to grow out her hair and donate it so "a little girl would have hair like hers."
Well today was the day she did her selfless act and cut off 8 inches of hair. 

Before the cut!

8 inches GONE!

There are moments in our kids lives when they make choices on their own that will make us proud. There are moments when they will make choices that will make us sad. When those moments happen, both of them, you have to take a moment and thank God. Because with out the sad moments we wouldn't be able to enjoy and beam from ear to ear with the great ones. 

*If you are considering donating your hair, there are 2 foundations I would recommend. 
-Pantene beautiful Lengths- 8in minimum requirement.
-Wigs for Kids- 10in minimum

Friday, August 21, 2015

Why we homeschool...

Two years ago Glen and I made the decision for our family to home school Wesley while Makenzie attended Bright Beginnings Academy.  At that time we made a two year commitment and would re-evaluate  after that. This summer was that time to re-evaluate. We knew Makenzie wasn't quite ready to be finished at Bright Beginnings so the answer was pretty simple. We would home school another year.  
Now let me be honest with you, the past two years have not be "a walk in the park." There have been very difficult days, especially the very first 6 months.  Wesley had been so use to the structured school setting that it was taking him ALL day to complete his work. He didn't think that he could read directions on a worksheet by himself. He kept waiting for me to read it to him and then explain it, answer the first problem, etc. This is what he was use to in the "traditional" school setting. Now I am not bashing or saying this is wrong in a "traditional school" because I know that when you have 20+ students in your class you have to "teach to the masses" and not the minority.  Once Wesley realized that he COULD work independently and complete his work by noon or earlier every day then we haven't really had many issues since then.  

So here are the top reasons why I would consider homeschooling Wesley (and eventually Makenzie) till they graduate:

1. I love that I can adapt his curriculum to what he LOVES. Wesley LOVES LOVES LOVES anything that has to do with History. If I could incorporate Math into History I would! Last year he did Alabama history AND World History and can tell you anything you would ever want to know from creation till the Middle Ages. He also loves the Chronicles of Narnia series. So I have adapted that into his reading and comprehension. Wesley has also been able to fully complete his work for the school year early and move on to the next grade, usually in the spring. I get to challenge him more with his work and he knows that I expect more out of him. I know what he is capable of and I expect that from him. 

The joys of homeschooling allow me to make school FUN (what! did I just say that SCHOOL could be FUN!!!) and enjoyable for him. 

2. Bible- I LOVE LOVE LOVE that I can have every bit of his curriculum coated in scripture. Science, history, reading, etc... God, the Bible and scripture is found in all of it.  I know what he is learning and I am right there to answer any questions he may have. 

3.Time- From K4-2nd grade he attended a christian private school. I also worked there as well. Being a "working mom" I was never able to go on field trips with either of my kids. Even though I was AT the same school as them, it was VERY hard to attend parties and events during the day because I was still expected to do my own job as well. Now, we can go anywhere. The past two years we have had so much fun going on many different field trips, exploring and learning hands on. He has been able to take art classes, learn how to build robotic Lego's, play baseball, flag football and so  much more.  I have been able to be right there and experience everything with him. I have been able to see my VERY dependent 3rd grader become a VERY INdependent 5th grader.   Life is too short to not spend it with the ones we love. All to often, I've seen a similar progression in children as they go away to preschool, elementary school and middle school. By the time they are teenagers, they want nothing to do with their parents. I'm thankful that homeschooling invites us to a deeper relationship with each other- and I am grateful for the time we have to work on it!

4. Influences- I fully understand that homeschooling is not for everyone and I know that every single family has their own reasons why they choose the form of schooling that they do for their children. We originally choose homeschooling because of the cost of Makenzie's specialized schooling. We couldn't afford two private schools  at the same time. Makenzie may (or may not) be done with her schooling at BBA after this year,so we have to once again look at our options.  Now, that they are both getting older, and we are seeing how corrupt the world that they are growing up in is becoming, we want to guard their hearts even more. We don't believe in "sheltering" them from the reality of what is the "real world" but we do believe in properly PREPARING them for the evil that is in world. We have had to have some very serious conversations with our children about sins of this world that we had never even heard of at their age.  When our children attended the christian private school (yes, even there) they were exposed to bullying, lying, hatred toward others, stealing, cussing, etc at such very young ages (k3-2nd). These are REAL issues that our children had to witness or even experience at very very young ages. Makenzie's self esteem was horrible partly due to the bullying she endured and Wesley was constantly coming home telling us stories of things kids in his class were saying or doing.   I know that everyone has different opinions on how much you should expose to your child to and how much sheltering should take place. I think that at every age you can talk about different topics but as they grow older then you can share more details but also use the Bible as your main tool when teaching these difficult topics.  Homeschooling has allowed us to choose what 'difficult topics' we want to discuss with our children and when we want to discuss them. Aren't we told in Prov. 22:6 to train up our child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it. So wouldn't that also mean that we should help guard their hearts like Prov. 4:23 states? 

"How long will you home school?"  - As long as we can. For our family this has been a blessing and we are enjoying the journey. Are their hard days? YES! But the good have out numbered the bad.

"What about Wesley being social with kids his age?" - How many of you work, speak, shop, worship, etc with people ONLY your age? Wesley has friends that he sees every week, but they are all ages. He is very active in art, sports, Lads to Leaders, etc. When you are at school, there is no talking while in the classroom. It is during PE or lunch. Well, he gets about the same amount of time every day as well. 

"How do you know what you are teaching is correct?"- I go off of Alabama Learning Exchange that list what course of study is required for every grade. Example- in 4th grade we did Alabama History. I do adapt the curriculum but I make sure he is on track as well.

"Is it expensive to home school?"- You can make is as expensive as you want it to be. I shop around for a while before I purchase anything. There are so many FREE learning tools online as well. 

If you have or are considering homeschooling, please pray about it. It is a big decision but I believe that it was the best decision for our family. I am happy to talk to you more about homeschooling if you have any questions.