Thursday, August 14, 2014

End of Summer

Whew! It’s been a busy one around here.

Let’s see…what’s happened around here lately?

It’s been a busy summer over here. We visited family and have had enough guests ourselves to hang a Bed & Breakfast sign on the front door. We’ve picked strawberries and made jam. We’ve grown a garden with lots of cucumbers and made pickles. We’ve even made Lemon Zucchini bread with zucchini from our garden. It’s been busy, but fun.

We took a great weekend trip to Louisville. We toured the Louisville Slugger Factory, went to the Zoo, and the Mega Cavern (where Caedmon learned about the Cuban Missile Crisis). Also, Honor wiggled her little behind out of her booster seat at a restaurant and almost knocked out her front teeth. It was special.

You know what’s more special? The fact that the dentist instructed us to make her stop sucking her thumb so that her teeth would stay in her head. That has led to desperate things like cutting the fingertips off of gloves that have the thumbs sewn to the palm. And then safety pinning and/or taping said gloves to her sleeves. Then, I discovered that she can still get her hands out of the gloves, even while they’re pinned to her sleeves. I don’t know what to do with that girl some days.

We spent about a month passing around a lovely summer cold/respiratory virus. That kind of put a damper on the end of our summer. But we’re trying to make up for our lost pool time now that everyone has gone back to school.

We have started school. I know, it’s still super early. But public schools have already started here, and Caedmon was ready to go. We’re full-blown into first grade. I know this is optimistic in our second week, but I think we’re going to make it. And that’s a good thing. Honor starts back to her Mother’s day out program next week. Now, if only we can get the bedtimes under control again, we’ll be in good shape.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Why Do My Children Hate Sleep?

This is a question I’ve asked for a very long time. But last night took the cake.

Honor has been through phases of terrible bedtimes. Ok, so maybe this phase has been going on since she was 16 months old. It’s been a long phase. I keep telling myself it’s a phase because that means it will be over one day. One day, she will JUST GO TO BED. No fighting, no fussing, no crying or whining, no getting out of bed 873 times. No parking myself at the top of the stairs with a wooden spoon. No sneaking up the stairs to catch her in the playroom long after she was supposed to be sleeping. No hearing Caedmon yell, “Mom! Honor’s in my room!” thirty minutes after lights out. One day. One day, both my children will sleep.

(Don’t crush my dreams, ok?)

The past few nights have been particularly challenging. Honor has been extra resistant at bedtime, and it’s about driven me to the brink of insanity. Who am I kidding? I was pretty close already. But last night? Last night was it. And I mean it.

I was worn out. I finally dragged myself to bed a little after 9pm, which is way earlier than I usually go to bed, and over an hour after Honor had “gone to bed.” (Yes, in quotation marks. Because she clearly hadn’t actually gone to bed.) As soon as I got settled under the covers, her shrill little voice yelled “Mom!” from the top of the stairs.

I joked with Husband that she must have a sensor that went off as soon as I got into bed. Because it seems that no matter when I get in the bed, she yells for me. It could be 9pm or midnight…she will yell.

I got up and walked to the bottom of the stairs. She was looking down at me from behind the gate at the top. I asked what she wanted. The words that came out of her mouth both made me want to laugh hysterically and scream at the same time, “Mom, why did you try to go to bed?”

That’s exactly what I did. I tried to go to bed. I suppose I just need to quit trying to go to bed. Maybe that’s the whole problem.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Pretty Cool Thing

Remember last year, when we went to Disney and I became completely obsessed with all the planning? Apparently, I’m not the only one that happens to.

I don’t know how many hours I’ve talked with friends about planning their trips. I’ve talked to just as many friends who want to plan a trip, but have no idea where to start and feel overwhelmed with all the choices. And let’s face it. Not everybody is a detail freak, loves to spend time on message boards, and creates spreadsheets and color coded lists for fun. 

My friend Jenna approached me with an idea to start a blog on Disney planning, focused on helping make things easier for families. Lindsey agreed to join us in this crazy venture, and together, we’ve started Real Mom’s Disney. We each get to share what works for our families, and you’ll get to see lots of things from three different perspectives. Feel free to email, tweet, or Facebook us with things you’d like to see on the blog or with Disney planning questions.

RMD Header Screenshot

We just launched the site last week, and there’s already some great content waiting for you!

Getting Started: Setting a Budget (and a free spreadsheet)

Crowd Calendars: Who, What, Where, When & Why

Budgeting for Souvenirs Without Breaking the Bank

 Getting Started: How many days should I spend in the parks?

We’ll have new articles up every day this week. Go check it out and let us know what you think!

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Monday, June 09, 2014

In Summer

It’s summer, y’all! We’ve been busy the past few weeks, but we’ve been soaking up summer as much as we can. I know some of y’all are just now getting out of school, but we’ve been out for almost a month. And we’re loving it.

Every day, Caedmon asks if he has to do school work. When I reply, “Nope, it’s summer,” it’s almost as good as saying, “It’s Christmas!” We’ve hit the pool, played with friends, gone to the zoo with friends, attended VBS, and finally played on the slip n’ slide.

Caedmon’s baseball season has started. He’s playing for the Bulls this year, and loving every second of it. (The teams are named after AAA baseball teams, so we’re the Durahm Bulls.) Honor is still so attached to the “baseball shirt” I made her last season, I hope I can convince her to wear the new team colors. Maybe since Caedmon’s jersey number is also her age, she will be more inclined to wear it. Who am I kidding? A new shirt with something ruffly on it? She’ll wear it. I might have a challenge finding a brownish orange ruffle, though. We may have to go with royal blue and be happy.

It’s no secret that Frozen has been everywhere lately. And I know that most of y’all are all about “Let it Go.” However, in our house, “Summer” is the favorite. Every time it comes on Disney Junior as a little between-show short, we stop what we’re doing, and we sing and dance. I think this sums up how excited we are about summer at our house.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

1st Grade Prep

Even though I just recapped kindergarten, we’ve already moved on to 1st grade over here. Actually, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in 1st grade for a couple of months now.

I know. I’m an overachiever.

Actually, I just don’t want to spend my entire summer working on school stuff. So I’m motivated.

The way the homeschool year works here, we can actually start in July. So we will be working a few days over the summer, mainly to keep things fresh.

We’re expanding a lot this year. Kindergarten only had four subjects, and this coming year we’ll have eight.

Please excuse me while I go breathe into a paper bag.

Yes, eight subjects. Reading, Writing, Math, and Bible have carried over from last year. We’ll be adding Spelling, Language Arts (Grammar), History, and Science.

Reading: We’ll use library books, and the reading lists from our other subjects will be our starting point. I will read aloud, we’ll read together, and he will read independently. There will be “school” reading, and “fun” reading, where he can choose whatever he likes. We also enjoy audio books, especially in the car. Hopefully we will expand from our Hank the Cowdog repertoire. (I love Hank. But we’re about to exhaust our library’s collection.)

Writing: We’re using Writing with Ease. I bought the hardback book and the workbook. The hardback book covers grades 1-4, and the workbook just covers 1st grade. I mainly chose the workbook because there is lots of copywork involved, and I didn’t want to have to write it all out beforehand. I like the concept behind this method, and it gives you the freedom to choose short or long passages depending on your child’s capabilities.

Math: We’re sticking with Saxon, moving up to Math 1. As opposed to last year, this year will have daily worksheets. Caedmon is already asking to start his new math, so I have a feeling we may be diving into this soon-ish.

Bible: We’re continuing with The Gospel Project for Kids, and we’ll keep the same general format we used last year.

Spelling: I decided to go with Spelling Workout from Modern Curriculum Press. We’re starting with level A. I hadn’t planned to purchase the Teacher’s Edition, but Husband found it at the used bookstore for $2.50. Score! I might be glad I have it – we’ll see! I think Caedmon will like the format – at least, I hope he will!

Language Arts: I chose First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Level 1. It’s scripted – so it tells me exactly what to say/do. Which is awesome. It will use copywork, narration, memorizing poetry, and picture study. I’m an English nerd, so I’m kind of excited about this one.

History: We will use The Story of the World, Volume 1. Caedmon is going to love it. Remember how he loves all the melee? I predict he will love all of the ancient warfare. I also purchased the audio version so we can listen in the car, and the Activity Book. The Activity Book comes with questions and narration cues for each chapter, as well as extra activity ideas and instructions, coloring pages, and maps. If I had to come up with all that stuff on my own, well…I wouldn’t. We’ll supplement with The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History and The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia.

Science: We will study “biology” this year – animals, people, and plants. We’ll be using the DK First Animal Encyclopedia and the DK First Human Body Encyclopedia. I haven’t decided what we’ll use for plants yet, but by the time we get to that part, it will be time to get going on our garden again, so there will be plenty of hands-on. We will study 20 weeks of animals, 10 weeks of the human body, and about 6 weeks of plants. I plan to let Caedmon choose a new topic each week, and explore from there. We may study reptiles one week and elephants the next, and that will be fine with me.

I purchased all of our stuff thru After scouring the internet, I found the best prices and availability there. Overall, I spent about half of what I thought I would. I know I could’ve waited until summer to buy more used resources, go to curriculum fairs, etc., but that just wasn’t going to work for me. There was no guarantee I’d find what I was looking for, and I didn’t find that most used prices were that much less than what I could purchase for on Amazon. Plus, I wanted it right now. A few of the resources will be used for multiple years, and we’ll (hope to) be using many things again when Honor follows in about three years.

So there it is…I’ll review all of these things at the end of next year, and let you know how it all worked for us. What are your favorite homeschool resources?

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Kindergarten Recap

I guess it’s time to officially recap our first year of homeschooling. It’s actually kind of hard to think back to the beginning of the school year. Maybe that’s because I’ve already ordered our curriculum for next year and have almost finished lesson plans. It’s a never-ending cycle!

Kindergarten went well for us. Caedmon is a smart boy. He has interests far beyond his 6 years, but at the same time, he has no interest in some of the basic things…like handwriting. That’s just part of being in kindergarten. And a boy. And 6.

Caedmon attended a weekly homeschool enrichment class this year, and we both loved it. His teacher was/is fabulous (he’ll have her again next year) and a huge blessing to our family. Caedmon got to go to “school” and learn along with friends. He was challenged by working with a group and independently within a class. He learned some things we didn’t touch on until the end of the year, and a few times I heard, “Mrs. J already taught me that.” That, my friends, was a good thing. After school pick-up, he told me more about lunch and recess than the other 4+ hours of the day. And, each week, he informed me that he ate the Oreos in his Lunchable first…just because he could. Free range lunch is big stuff, y’all.

(And yes, go ahead and judge that I send a Lunchable with my kid every week. I make breakfast, lunch, and dinner every other day of the week. He can enjoy some processed food in a pack once a week.)

At home, we focused on four subjects – I kept things simple on purpose. I didn’t want to push him too much, and I wanted him to have plenty of time to learn to learn. So while we supplemented with field trips, extra learning opportunities, and self-guided study, our four main subjects were: Reading, Writing, Math, and Bible.

Reading: We used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. My Mom used this book to teach my siblings to read, so I knew it was time-tested and effective. It also took zero prep from me. It has scripts for the parent to follow, so you don’t have to “know” anything. It starts very basic, and by the end of the book, the student is reading short stories. It uses a parts to whole method (basically phonics), and only teaches sight words one or two at a time, not as a big list. It has 3-4 lessons that teach a new concept, then a review lesson. It also has a writing aspect, and teaches the child how to write one or two letters at a time.

When we started the year, we were actually picking up from our “K4” year. We got through about 50 lessons last year, so we went through all the review lessons up to lesson 50 when we started this year. Then, we picked up where we left off. The book recommends doing a lesson every day. But we didn’t. (I’m such a rebel.) Caedmon’s favorite thing was not reading, and I didn’t want it to be a chore. At the same time, he needed to learn to read, and was quite capable. So we did 2-3 lessons a week, and on the off days, we either went to the library or I read aloud to him/we read together.

Each week, we chose a library book for a “book report.” He could choose any book we brought home from the library. It wasn’t always my favorite book, but I wanted to make sure it was something he was excited about. I read the book aloud to him, and then he did a book report. I made a template that we used for these, and I’m so thankful I did. It made life so much easier. We’d write the author and illustrator, if applicable. Then, I’d ask him for a sentence about the book  - what he learned, what he liked, etc. I’d write down his sentence, then he’d draw a picture about the book. Then he’d write his name and the date on the report.

Reading finally “clicked” for Caedmon about a month before we finished kindergarten. He realized that he could actually read things outside of his reading book. (I was right! Gasp!) Now he reads all kinds of things in all sorts of places. Signs, license plates…it amazes me where he sees all the words now. He can read things like The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham without help. He’s started trying to spell things on his own, and it sometimes ends up quite comical. I love it. He’s still a bit timid – mainly because he doesn’t want to be wrong. But we’ll continue reading over the summer, and I’m confident that he’ll follow in the footsteps of a long line of great readers from both sides of the family.

Writing: For the first semester, we used the writing part of 100 Easy Lessons. I’d write sample letters on his writing paper, and he’d trace, then write his own letters. I also had him write his name, family members’ names, and numbers. Toward the end of the semester, he wrote well enough that I’d give him an extra line at the bottom to write “something for fun.” He really enjoyed having a line to just write something he came up with.

For the second semester, I used the Zaner Bloser Handwriting Grade K workbook. It goes over each letter individually, followed by numbers and some copywork. We got most of the way through it, and will finish the last few pages over the summer. I didn’t have the teacher’s book, so I just went with one letter (one page front and back) per lesson.

Caedmon has always had good fine motor skills, and his writing is pretty decent – when he wants it to be. We do kind of butt heads over the proper way to make some letters, though. He tends to want to write them in the most complicated way possible. He doesn’t understand that even though there may be seven ways to write the letter, only one is considered correct as far as his school work is concerned. I made a deal with him that he could write them however he wants when he draws/writes anything on his own, but he has to write them the proper way for his school work. He didn’t like that until I explained that it’s important to write letters properly so he can more easily learn to write cursive. He’s dying to write in cursive.  I’m not dying to teach cursive.

Math: We used Saxon Math K with the manipulatives kit. (The manipulatives kit is used K-3rd grade.) I’d heard that some just started with Math 1, and was tempted to do so, but I’m actually glad we started with K. It was very simple at first – way more simple than he (or I) thought it should be. There were lots of concepts he already knew and understood well. But I knew that he didn’t know the things toward the end of the book. He loved using the manipulatives – counting bears, tangrams, shape pieces, geo board, etc. We spent a lot of time learning patterns, and honestly, I was kind of worn out on patterns by the end of the year. I was even more tired of making pictographs. The only worksheets with Math K are optional and begin in the last half of the lessons. They are geared toward writing numbers and coloring in a certain number of shapes, not working problems.

It did require prep on my part – not a ton, but some. I actually made a lot of the things on my computer and saved them so I can just print them again when Honor uses this in about three years. It was a pain to open up the lesson and see that I was supposed to cut out a bunch of construction paper shapes for that lesson, so I spent some time going through the entire book and made a list of what prep was needed when. I will say, however, that this is a great math program and we did enjoy it overall. Caedmon learned a lot, and absolutely loved doing math lessons.

There are 112 lessons in Math K, and it was designed for three lessons/week, and one day for review. We did math three days/week, sometimes doing just three lessons, sometimes up to five, especially during the beginning of the year. We skipped the review day – we just didn’t find it necessary.

We did finish the book a couple of weeks early, so we moved on to a Grade 1 math workbook I picked up in the Target $1 Spot. We got about half way thru it by the time we officially finished school, and we’ll complete the book over the summer.

Bible: We used The Gospel Project for Kids. It’s published by LifeWay and is written as a Sunday School curriculum, meant to go through the entire Bible in three years. This was our second year to use it. I simplified a lot this year. (Last year, I ordered the teacher’s books and activity pages. Caedmon wasn’t interested in the activity pages, and I found that with the app, I didn’t need the book.) We downloaded the iPad and/or iPhone app each quarter. The app has lesson videos, discussion starter videos, parent guides, memory verses, songs, and games. I found it super easy to use and it worked well for us. We also added The Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook this spring. The stories correspond with the lessons, and it gave us another way to experience the lesson.

We did 1-2 lessons a week. My goal right now is to familiarize him with the Bible and follow the thread of God’s plan throughout the Scripture, not necessarily go deep on each lesson. That time will come. If you know anything about my boy, you know he loves battle. So he adored all the fighting and general mayhem in the Old Testament.  Kings and wars…right up his alley.

Generally, we would watch the lesson video on the first day. The next day, we’d read the story either from the Bible or the Bible Storybook. The third day, we’d watch the lesson video again and do a journal page. I made a journal page for each lesson – the lesson title, scripture reference, the “Big Picture” question and answer, and the unit memory verse. His task was to draw a picture about the lesson. (Since we were in the Old Testament much of this year, there were lots of stick men holding swords and shields. Just the way he likes it.)

We did lots of other things in between, but that’s the biggest part of what we did this year. Reading, writing, and math…the rest will follow! Pin It

Thursday, May 15, 2014


We’ve been busy bees lately. Here’s a little of what we’ve been up to.

We dyed Easter eggs.  (Yes, it’s been that long since my last post.)


I made a “smoked”  brisket in the crock pot for Easter, using Rudy’s Rub Husband brought back from a business trip to Texas. Because that’s what you bring home from Texas, and this is what you do with it.


We discovered that Caedmon is allergic to wasp stings, and joined the EpiPen club.


We ran a couple of drive-thru errands one day, and took Oz with us. He enjoyed the trip.


We got our garden started.


We spent some time getting our “safe place” ready for spring storms. We haven’t had to sit in there yet, but Honor has her spot all picked out.


Caedmon’s homeschool enrichment class had Field Day, and he brought home these awesome ribbons.


Our homeschool group visited a diary farm. We went on a hay ride, got to meet a dairy cow, pet her, see how cows are milked, and pet a new calf. We also ate some of their freshly made ice cream and played on the playground.


Caedmon’s end of the year ceremony with his sweet teacher, Mrs. J.


Caedmon received the “Detailed Historian Award” from Mrs. J. It was appropriate that when we got back in the car, this was sitting on the front seat.


We bring home a bag full of books just like this every time we go to the library.

Honor got some new goggles.


We went to pick strawberries. (She’s teaching the kids how to find the “grown up” berries.)


The pool opened the day we went to pick berries, so we had to go! (Caedmon got a new mask & snorkel!)


And then that afternoon, I made strawberry jam.


It didn’t quite set up, but it tastes so good, I don’t really care.

We had errands to run while Honor was at MDO one day, so Caedmon got to do math while we took a break at Starbucks. He’s quickly learning that “school” can be anywhere…and he kind of likes the idea.


Today is Honor’s last MDO for the school year. It’s about to officially be summer at our house, y’all! I don’t know when we’re going to find time to relax!

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