Orchestra Hall, Nanea, and Leaf Art

This was an interesting week.  I didn’t have anything out of the ordinary planned, yet I seemed to have a hard time sticking to my plan.  Things kept coming up – errands and kittens, mainly.

We powered through the week, but left a lot of “make up work” for next week.  Note to self: Next year, don’t plan any academics the week of Halloween.  I seem to need a week to get caught up.

Anyhow, here’s what we were up to this week:

Math and field trips.  That’s it.  It’s not as bad as it sounds. The field trips included

A trip to Orchestra Hall to experience the sounds of a growing orchestra.  She learned about the different sections of the orchestra, which was really educational and fun.

 

American Girl Club, where she presented everything she learned about Princess Kaiulani to her group, and listened to her friends give their presentations.  Presentations varied from Hawaiian food, to hula dancing, grass skirts, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and Japanese internment camps.  After the presentations, they made Hawaiian leis and did a service project.

 

Nature class, where she did some leaf art, and did a little “forest bathing” as she walked around the State Park with her friends.  These huge Cottonwood trees reminded me of what the tree must have been like in My Side of the Mountain.

 

Next week is Halloween week, and we have a LOT of fun planned!

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School Year Update

We’re a month and a half into the school year, and things are going great!

Millie is thoroughly enjoying public high school.  I’m pretty sure she’s sticking it out.  There are a few things that I really really like about her school experience (she’s excelling in math – something she was really struggling with at home, she’s having conversations and discussions about things that we might not have had at home, and I feel like she’s growing as a person because of it, and she’s becoming passionate about things that she didn’t care about at all before, like government).

Elise and I are having a great time at home, together.  I’ve got to tell you, having one kid to homeschool is a lot easier than two.  I mean, obviously it’s going to be easier – I only have one child to teach.  When she’s done, we’re done for the day.  It’s pretty amazing.  Of course, it was pretty amazing when both kids were home too, but man oh man, is it easy having one.  😉

Here’s what she’s been up to:

Math – She’s using Saxon, and loving it.  I swore I wouldn’t switch from Saxon since I switched math curriculum so many times with Millie trying to find the “right thing,” that I think I screwed her up 😦  So, to help me in my math teacher journey, I’m using Nicole the Math Lady.  She is a subscription based, online math teacher.  She has gone through and made instructional videos for every single Saxon math lesson – over a thousand of them!  Amazing.  She’s my math hero 🙂

Language Arts – We’re using the Guest Hollow Language Arts program this year, along with my very favorite, trusty, Queens Language Lessons.  I like combining the two for a couple reasons.  The Guest Hollow program is great as far as providing me with book lists, videos, and fun assignments.  But…the workbook that goes along with it has to be printed at home, or at an office supply place, and it would just be too much.  Enter, Queens.  The lessons in Queens Language Lessons are short and sweet, and they get the job done.  Combining the two seems to be the perfect blend for us.

Science – We’re using Apologia’s Exploring Creation With Chemistry and Physics. I love this book because it has a lot of pictures, the part I read to Elise isn’t too wordy, and it has really fun experiments/projects.  Along with her book learnin’, Elise also attends SciGirls, an all girls science class that I run.  This month, we had class in a 747 jet.  It’s my favorite thing about homeschooling!

Geography – For this, I used a little bit of Guest Hollow’s Geography plan, plus a bit of Charlotte Mason-esque map work, and we’re utilizing our diverse community to go on outings to get a flavor for other cultures.

Those are the core classes.  We also go on field trips every other week, she attends American Girl Club (history) once per month, fun social gatherings every other Friday, sewing, outdoor playdates, Ordway performances, and open gym at a gymnastics studio.

We keep busy, but not too busy that I feel overwhelmed.  For me, the key is good sleep.  🙂

Gearing Up For 5th Grade (and 9th)

I wish Summer was over, so I could start school!

                                         -Millie, about to enter 9th grade

IMG_20180819_122929As always, the new school year brings with it many changes.  This year, the biggest and most unexpected change is that Millie has decided to attend the local high school for 9th grade.  As a girl who has always said that she wants to be homeschooled forever, it was a bit of a shock.  After listening to her reasoning, we decided to let her go to school.  Of course, there is a spot in the Two Cowgirls Homeschool waiting for her, if she decides that public school isn’t for her.

What was her reasoning?  The big, dreaded “S word”!  After all these years of coordinating activities, arranging playdates, and attending event after event, she decided it just wasn’t right for her.  What she wants, are friends that are local.  I get it.  Her favorite school friend lives an hour away, and the closer ones live a minimum of 30 minutes away.  She wants to be able to text a friend and say, “let’s meet at the water park,” or “let’s meet at the coffee shop and study.”  Thankfully we have great neighbor kids for both girls to play with/hang out with.  Despite this, Milie needs more.

While I have mixed feelings about her heading off (sad to have her leave the homeschool, but super excited about the classes she’ll be taking at the school), I’m really looking forward to having one-on-one time with Elise!

Elise is going into 5th grade.  She is a completely different learner than her sister, and matches my style perfectly.  Exciting!  We’re going to have so much fun learning about geography, math, language arts, and science together.

If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I love planning things.  I have our academic schedule detailed in my calendar, so that I know what we’re doing on each day for the entire school year.  All this organization makes me so happy! Now that everything is planned out, all I have to do is sit here and wait for the school year to start.  In the meantime, I need to finish my summer reading goal (one more book!), sip some sweet tea, and soak up as much sun as possible.

 

We’re ready to start!!  I’m so excited 🙂

An Expo, a Dino, and Sno[w]

IMG_20180109_110244We are fully back in the swing of things, after Christmas break.  I’m totally rejuvenated, and so are the kids.

Millie (8th grade) started working on chemistry.  I’m a bit of a science teacher failure, so this is her first experience with the old periodic table.  We’re using the Intro to Chemistry kit from Home Science Tools, along with lots of really great YouTube videos.  We started with Ian Stuart’s introductory videos, which are beyond fantastic.  In addition to that, she’s been learning about the CCC, which over the years has been a special area of interest to her.  She read Invasion on the Mountain, which she loved.  We were supposed to go to the Minnesota Historical Society library to do some research, but we didn’t get around to it.  I’m hoping we can add it to our day next week…

 

Elise asked to learn more about rocks, so we started our rock unit this week.  Don’t you just love when things in your homeschool line up perfectly, without effort?  Here’s what happened this week:  We started our unit about rocks, which began with us talking about the rocks that often contain fossils.  Also this week, we went on a field trip where we learned all about fossilized dinosaur poop!!  It all came full circle 🙂  The coolest part, was finding out that coprolites (dino poop) stick to your tongue.  Ewww!  Yes, my daughter put one on her tongue.  Ha ha ha.  In addition to rocks and fossils, Elise learned about nutrition at her SciGirls class.  She’s *kind of* a math and science nut.

 

The thing I love to do most, is to plan stuff.  I love planning curriculum, my budget, classes, events, and field trips.  It’s my hobby.  Over the course of the school year, I plan 60+ field trips/classes.  So much fun for me!  Anywhoo, as part of my continuing ed, I attend a field trip expo twice per year.  So, the girls and I went to one this week.  They’re always so inspirational, and I always get ideas for field trips and classes for the upcoming year.  We usually win cool prizes, too.  Just a little added perk.  🙂  Here are a few pics from our time at the field trip expo:

 

Are you interested in what other homeschoolers were up to this week?  Click here!

The Whirlwind That Was December

Oh December.  A month of excessive work (nights, weekends, and over double the hours that I normally work), creating a magical Christmas for my girls, enjoying the Christmas season, 2018 planning, and topping it off with a fantastic New Years party.

I said I’d talk about how a working, homeschooling mom does it all, while dealing with extreme exhaustion from working all night long.  It was my plan to have a month filled with useful advise and pointers, but my experience was, ummmm, less than ideal.  I started out with a great menu plan, in which I’d fix healthy meals for my family to enjoy while I was at work.  Well, truth be told, that only happened once.  My family pretty much survived on cheese, meat, and crackers for dinner.  Not every night, of course, but more than I’d like to admit.

Did that hinder the Christmas magic?  No!  We still filled our days and non-working evenings with wonderful traditions (see below).

Christmas with the family was so great this year.  No one went to the emergency room, everyone gave thoughtful gifts, we played games, ate great food, and had a magical time.

Now we’re in the period of time between Christmas and New Years.  I LOVE this time.  I use these days to re-plan the remainder of the school year, rework our budget, and set new goals.

The kids are using this week to spend quality time with neighborhood friends, play with their Christmas gifts, and relax before school starts back up on January 2nd 🙂

Museums, SciGirls, and Gangsters

This week was the calm before the storm.  We were fortunate to be able to stay home a couple days, and get out for some great fun on three!

Monday we stayed home and did a lot of school work 🙂  Millie finished up her physical science course, and is ready to start chemistry soon.  Elise has been busy working on subjects and predicates, and copying a poem about a chicken.  We would have normally gone to a play date in the afternoon, but both girls were exhausted from the weekend, and wanted to stay home.  They don’t have to ask me twice!

Tuesday, Dustin from Stranger Things “thunder lizard” sweatshirt was released at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  The girls decided that we should go museum-hopping, and pick up sweatshirts while we were out.  We started out at the newly renovated Children’s Museum.  We didn’t spend too much time there, but the girls had a lot of fun in the tinker room, playing with the green screen, and climbing on the three story climbing structure.  After that, we went to the Science Museum.  They were sold out of hoodies, but the girls got other variations of the sweatshirt.  Lastly, we met up with dad, and went  to the WWI exhibit at the Minnesota History Center.  We ended  the night with tacos 🙂

 

IMG_20171108_115458Wednesday was SciGirls!  We’re in year four.  I can’t believe it!  It’s so fun to be able to inspire young girls by bringing mentors and super cool experiences to them.  We did coding this month.  Elise normally doesn’t like anything that has to do with computers, but she loved the coding they did at the Apple Store!

Thursday we stayed home.  I kept having a feeling that we were forgetting to go somewhere!  We stayed home all day, the kids did their schoolwork, and we enjoyed each others company.  It was wonderful!

IMG_20171110_140439Friday was a teen Field Trip Friday event.  We met up at historic caves, where we got a history lesson about the caves past.  It was super fun, and involved night clubs, mushrooms, gangsters, and ghosts.  OOoOoo!

As I mentioned earlier, this is the calm before the storm.  The next month of our lives will be turned upside down, while I work triple shifts, and try  to balance homeschool, my school, work, the household, and getting sleep and not going crazy.  More on all this later…

Would you like to see what other homeschoolers were up to this week?  Click here!

A Little Bit Halloween, A Little Bit Christmas

From Halloween to Christmas in one week flat!  This week was great!  I mean, we went out every single day, which stinks, but everything we did was fun.

Monday:  We quickly did schoolwork in the morning so we could leave for a truck or treat at a friends house!  It was super fun.  Millie and Elise decided that we’d decorate our car like a mythical zoo, complete with a live unicorn.  After everyone finished trunk or treating, we went inside, the kids got their face painted, made slime, and did other fun things.  When we got home, both kids said they’d had enough of Halloween, and they were ready to start celebrating Christmas.  They’re definitely my kids 😉

IMG_20171031_182501Tuesday:  We had a regular, full day of school of math, spelling, history, and science.  In the evening, we left to trick or treat with the family.  We went to my sisters house, where we had dinner with her family, and our parents.  I love holidays with my family!  The best part is that there is no pressure of presents, just spending time together with no strings attached.  I think that’s why I like Thanksgiving and the 4th of July so much, too.

Wednesday:  Normally, Elise would have stayed home to do school work on this Wednesday while Millie was at co-op, but I had something else in mind.  We won a membership to the Children’s Museum a while ago, but haven’t used it.  Elise brought a friend and had fun exploring the newly renovated museum.  I forgot my phone, so no pictures.  I swear it happened!  He he.

Thursday:  I left school work for the kids while I left to go Christmas shopping with my mom and sister.  We didn’t do our normal plan.  Normally we go to Target, the mall, Hobby Lobby, and other stores.  This time, we hit up a place called PrimBarn, a little independent shop in someone’s barn.  They have the cutest stuff!

Friday: Field trip day!  We went to the Textile Center  and made monsters.  The kids designed them, transferred their designs onto fabric, sewed, and stuffed their creations.  It was fantastic!

Next week will bring some major changes to our life.  I’m going to try to double as much as possible at work, which means the girls will be on their own a lot.  I’ll be home, but sleeping.  So, that means I’ll have to do a lot of prep work early in the week, and hope the kids can stay on track…

Are you interested in seeing what other homeschoolers were up to this week?  Click here!

Playgrounds, Flower Crowns, and Story Contests

Do you realize that in two months from now, Christmas will be over?!  I know a lot of people say, “can’t we celebrate Thanksgiving before thinking about Christmas?”  I say, “no,”  🙂  I love cherishing every single little bit of the season.  In fact, one of my favorite Christmas shopping days is coming up in less than a week.  Squeeee!  Plus, it’s snowing and the kids are listening to Christmas music.  How can I not be in the spirit??

Here’s what we did this week:

Monday: Regular school in the morning.  In the afternoon we did our afternoon teen playgroup.  The older kids walked and chatted, and the younger kids played.  Elise figured out that she can hang upside down on a bar.  Good times.

IMG_20171024_195117Tuesday: We did school in the morning, and then I had to run errands in preparation for Wednesdays American Girl Club meet-up, which ended up being quite a looooong adventure.  I needed flowers for the kids to make Swedish floral headbands.  I went to a local florist, who was going to charge $36 for 12 daises.  That would have used up almost my entire budget.  So, I left there, and decided to find a local farmers market.  There was one 25 minutes away, so we went, only to find out that they closed for the season on September 29th.  Then, I messaged a friend who is a farmer, and she said her flowers were gone for the year.  Ugh.  Anywhoo, after driving around for 2+ hours trying to find flowers, I ended up getting beautiful flowers at Walmart…2 minutes from my house.  When I got home, I made coffee, and spent the rest of the day in bed with my homework.  🙂  Introvert heaven!!

Wednesday: One Wednesday per month, we have an American Girl Club meet-up.  For October, we read about Kirsten.  At our meet-up, each girl presented about something she learned about from the book: food, diseases that used to be around but aren’t as common anymore, a rag doll, homemade cookies (with samples!), etc.  it was so cool to see what each girl decided to learn more about!  After presentations, we did some crafts.  They made their Swedish flower crowns and rag dolls.  It’s such a fun group of girls!!

Thursday: In the morning, the girls got to work right away on their school.  It was nice to finally be able to take it easy!  We didn’t have to leave the house until afternoon, when we left for Millie’s volunteer job.  I picked up her friend, then dropped them off for an evening of scaring other teens at a spooky Halloween event.  It was at a nature center, so my plan was to get a coffee, sit at a table in the cafe, and do homework.  Unfortunately, the building was off limits because of a private event, so I ended up sitting in my car, writing a paper for nearly two hours.  The life of a chauffeuring mom is so glamorous, let me tell you!

Friday: You know how much I LOVE receiving the gift of time, right?  Well, we were supposed to have a teen meet up on Friday, at which the kids were going to carve pumpkins, have a bonfire, and roast marshmallows.  The weather didn’t cooperate, it was 39 degrees and snowing, so I cancelled.  That meant I had the WHOLE day to stay at home.  I didn’t get in the car once.  It was fabulous!!! The girls both spent most of the day writing. Millie is entering her story into a short story contest. Wish her luck!  In the evening Bud and I put the kids up in their room, and we watched Stranger Things 2 until 3 AM.  Good times!!

Are you interested in seeing what other homeschoolers were up to this week?  Click here.

Silks, Circuits, and Corn

IMG_20171016_085751_218I haven’t made a “fall bucket list” in a long time.  I don’t like the idea of getting stressed out about not crossing an item off the list.  I’m type A like that.  Just because I don’t make bucket lists, doesn’t mean I don’t look at them on Pinterest 🙂  I love looking at all the fun things we could be (and are!) doing during the fall.  Apple cider pressing, jumping in leaf piles, admiring the fall colors, bringing out the fall clothing box, joining in on spooky Halloween  activities, eating apples…  they’re all things that completely warm my heart and soul at this time of year!

Our homeschool tends to reflect the season during this last third of the year.  It’s my absolute favorite 🙂

Here’s what we’ve been up to this week:

Monday we did school work in the morning, and then left for our friends house.  The girls spent hours and hours playing in the woods with other kids.  It was a crisp day, but the sun was out.  Everything about the day felt so good!!

IMG_20171018_095327Tuesday we stayed home all day.  Millie has been busier than usual over the past two weeks, so needed to catch up on her science and history work.  She sped through history.  She’s using Notgrass America the Beautiful this year, and it’s such a perfect fit!  She loves it because the lessons are fairly short, full of beautiful photos, and the literature and activities that go along with each lesson are fun.  I’m excited to use the curriculum through highschool!  On the other hand, Millie claims to really dislike the science we’re using (physical science using PhysicsQuest kits).  If she really didn’t like it, we’d find an alternative.  But, you know what?  By the end of the the lessons, she is so excited about what she’s learned, she tells dad all about it when he gets home from work.  I call that a win 😉  While Millie was working on her back-log of work, Elise dug into some circuit supplies, and played around with buzzers and lights.  She was SO amazed!  It was awesome.

IMG_20171022_160501Wednesday Millie had co-op like normal.  Elise and I were supposed to stay home and do school work, but she really wanted to go to a playground to show me how she can flip.  We did that, went to the library (her request.  Elise suggesting that she read more?  Yes please!), and went for Chinese food.  Apparently back on August 21st, I promised Chinese food, soon.  LOL.  I had to keep my word…

Thursday was another stay at home day.  We plugged through school like usual.  Millie got an A on another math test.  Pre-algebra seems to agree with her!   Finally!!  After school, Millie had to volunteer for a teen art board that she’s on.  They’re busy planning a teen halloween night, and had to make props.  After I dropped her off, I took Elise to a silks class.  She had been asking to take a silks class since we went to the Renaissance Festival on September 29th.  She has been asking every. single. day.  So, I took her.  She love it so much, and caught on really fast!

IMG_20171020_144415Friday is always Field Trip Friday, here.  The girls did their school work before I woke up (hooray!), and were ready to go to lunch at our friends house.  After lunch, we went to Severs Corn Maze for hours of corn pit fun!  I accidentally scheduled this event during MEA, a two day period in which all students in Minnesota are off school.  That was a bad time to go to Severs, as it was packed.  The kids didn’t seem to mind, though.  I think I’ll schedule this again for next year, on a date when the public school kids are IN school 😉

It was a fantastic week!

Are you interested in seeing what other homeschoolers were up to this week?  Click here 🙂

Too Busy, Too Soon!

We’re only a month in, and the girls and I are already feeling overwhelmed with outings.  Here’s what we need to do:

  1. Remember that we need to do what works best for us, despite worrying about disappointing others.
  2. Practice the art of saying No.
  3. Stick to my original plan, from the beginning of the school year.

Even though we’ve been overwhelmed, we have definitely been having fun.  Both girls are reading a LOT of books, we’ve been on some great field trips, and they’re both doing great in math.  Woo hoo!  Here’s what we’ve been up to: