Homeschooling after vacation

Apparently, my kids took our Spring Break as the beginning of summer. We have had a really, REALLY hard time getting back on a routine. The first week home we did some review because I knew we had testing coming up the following week. Plus an unexpected (but welcomed) house guest stayed with us for a few days. So after life got settled down, I thought it will be easy to knock out the next 2 months. We are refreshed and ready to go….or not. Everytime we sat at our table for school time, I dreaded it. I wanted to be doing other things, crafts, science projects and more, not sitting at the table giving another spelling test or reviewing the same concept of a sentence for my special needs child for the millionth time. I love homeschooling, it’s one of my passions, but I was hating it at the same time. Turns out I have Homeschool Burn Out. I don’t know how many times I threatened to send the kids back to school because I was over it. All I wanted to do was throw out our books!

Guess what? I did just that!

We are doing fun learning! Something I call school for Dakota because he “hates” school and it’s boring. I now do for all 3. We put all books away except for our Math. I sat down with my computer and tablet and made lessons plans based on what we are learning and using hands on activities, including lapbooking and notebooking.

Before this happened, I read a few articles online about Homeschool Burn Out, but never really took it seriously. Believe me, it is a serious condition! If I hadn’t taken action, I may have put my kids back in public school. For my kids (not all) that would have been very damaging. Plus I am not sure what I would have done with my day. I am glad something in my mind clicked and said research this. And when I read all the symptoms: depression, not wanting to do school, threatening to put kids in school, tired and irritability. I knew this is what I was fighting. Thankfully, I saw what me and the kids didn’t want to do and changed to the items we were craving, using our creativity!

It’s only been 3 days since I threw out the books, but it has felt so refreshing to be free. I am beginning to see that play really is the best education you can give a child. And I am focused more on doing than filling out a worksheet.

Our Frugal Disney Vacation

One day at Disney World can be expensive for a family of 6, but 5 days can be down right ridiculous. You can read about how we save for our Annual passes and this vacation here.

We stayed at the Fort Wilderness Cabins. I chose here because I have always wanted to stay in a cabin and it also came with a kitchen. Now Disney has quite a few options for large families. There is the option of getting 2 rooms at the same hotel, but you are not guaranteed side by side rooms, though I have never had a problem getting them. But there is no kitchen and would have to go out to eat for every meal. Then there are family suites at some hotels that sleep up to 6 and have a kitchen, problem though is you hear everyone walking through the halls and talking loudly. The cabins are placed about apart from each other so you don’t hear all the footsteps and voices.  Comparing the cabin and the family suites, the cabin turned out to be much better priced. Now the cons, we are early to bed and early to rise people, so I didn’t take that into account when it came to the daily 10pm fireworks show that we could hear clearly even though it was at Magic Kingdom across the lake. The kitchen was poorly stocked as far as cookware. Let’s say it took some adjustments to cook the meals I did cook. Can you say aluminum foil cookie sheet?

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After we checked in, we headed for the nearest Publix to do some grocery shopping. I had it planned where we would have one dinner and one breakfast out and the rest at the cabin. And of course for the first night we grabbed some subs at the store. For a total of $160 which we took from our grocery budget.

Breakfast: Pancakes, french toast sticks, toaster strudels or breakfast sandwiches and then out to eat. You have to have Mickey waffles once while at Disney.

Dinners: subs, Burgers, chips and leftover potato salad, Golden Corral, Chicken Cordon bleu and tater tots.

Not the healthiest meals but better than hamburgers and french fries everyday.

Now as you can see I left lunch out because we were mostly at the parks during that time. And most of the time we didn’t eat breakfast until 9am so we weren’t hungry for a big lunch. We mostly purchased snacks. First day was fruit, second day we actually ate a big lunch, third day funnel cakes and last mickey pretzels and churros. (Don’t judge it’s a vacation from our diet too!)

Souveniers are a given when you are at a place like Disney. My older kids had earned or saved some money before the vacation. I had also earned 4 free $10 Disney giftcards with our movie rewards and then my grandmother gave each of them $5. So each had $10-15 saved, a $10 giftcard and an additional $5, once it was gone it was gone. And Mom and Dad weren’t handing out extra. This was to be spent on whatever (within reason) they wanted. We provide necessities but if you want a bag of candy, you have to buy it yourself. This worked out well for some and not so well for others. But maybe it was a lesson learned. (Hopefully?!)

In the end, we came home with over $100 still in our pocket to put towards our next vacation fund. And a lot of priceless memories!

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Momma’s sick week

Last week I came down with a sinus infection that just really wiped me out. All I wanted to do was sit and rest, watch TV and drink Sprite. But as a stay at home~schooling mom whose husband works from home that was not happening. Instead of trying to be Supermom and keep doing everything, I made some adjustments to our days so that I had some moments of rest. I think it is the first time in years that when I got sick I took sick days and didn’t feel guilty at all. Life still went on and school went on but without me being in the middle of it. And I honestly think it was good for the kids.

First thing was school. It was more of independent learning. I would say the lessons and activities I wanted completed and they would go about and do their thing. Now everyday I did manage to do History and Science with them and grade some papers before I was spent. And my lil man did keep on doing preschool work, just a little less than usual. Which of course he was fine with.

Unfortunately, I picked the wrong week business wise. Hubby is working on some solid surface countertops, which is like a stone countertop, and he needed me all week for moving and lifting and flipping. So that was where my focus was, helping him and resting in between. I would lay with my sprite and tv until he called, go out back, help, come back and rest.

I delegated the cooking to Cailin because she is an aspiring chef. I even drove my two oldest up to Publix with a grocery list and money and waited in the parking lot while they shopped.  All the girls helped out with the Dakota, fixing him lunch, snacks and drinks. Daddy even put him to bed one night which never happens, because he is a Momma’s boy. It was nice. My hubby tried to get me to rest more, by telling me to let the kids be kids and just rest and watch movies, but then 5 minutes later he would call for help. It was a nice thought though.

All in all, I did realize that my children are getting to that age where I can ask more from them when I need to. But I also realized that they too are becoming independent little adults and don’t need me as much. Which means pretty soon they will be off on their own with their lives and families and not momma’s little babies no more. So bittersweet.

2014 homeschooling schedule

I am excited for this new chapter of schooling. I made some changes that I hope and pray will work because I just don’t know if I can handle throwing out and starting over part 3. Originally we were doing 6 weeks of school and then a 2 week break. This was idea when my kids were younger, but now we are in middle school. And honestly 6 weeks isn’t enough time to fit in all the learning that we wanted to do. Basically any hands on activity and field trips got pushed to the back burner. They have burned to a crisp by now.

Plus I realized when the holidays were upon us, there just wasn’t enough time to do our regular homeschool routine and celebrate with fun activities. So, of course, all the fun was sucked out again. Also I felt like I was always rushed to shop and entertain and homeschool and EVERYTHING!!! I didn’t get to enjoy it!

Well I have found a schedule that will fix all that. January through May, we are doing school consistently with a week off in March for Spring Break. Our spring break will be different every year because we will coordinate with my oldest daughters school schedule. They will also have the occasional day off here or there.  We will wrap our school year up in May and have June and July off for summer break. Then in August we will start our new school year and homeschool strong with the occasional day off through to Thanksgiving. The week of Thanksgiving will mark our Holiday break. We will be off until after the first of the year.

This schedule is just for my older kids. My preschooler will be doing school all the time. His schedule is a little more relaxed. We usually do school 3-4 days a week. And he needs consistency to keep up with what he is learning. These breaks are the perfect time for some one on one time with mommy.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome 2014!

Oh how I have looked forward to you! So many things are going to happen this year.

My hubby turns 40. We celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. We have been together 12 years. Our children will turn 17, 15, 15 and 5.

But other than that I look forward to the life I am ready to live. I have spent way too much time putting things off and now I am going to do it! 

I am looking forward to blogging more because I feel like I have finally found something I love.

I am determine to take photography classes to go along with that fancy camera I got so many months ago.

I want to homeschool in a way that I see my kids love learning and flourish.

I want to get and feel healthy. I am tired of being tired and not feeling like a 32 year old.

Also I want to grow our family!

But mostly I just want to be present in my kids lives and live like it’s our last moment on Earth. As you know I have fought depression in the past and though I did good this last year, I feel like in the new year I can be even better. And after a health scare with my son, it just jump started that feel to make the most of what you are given.

So I hope all of you the best in 2014. I hope you reach your goals and I hope you will follow me on this crazy journey I call life.

 

 

Eye opening experience

The Wednesday before Christmas I was watching some TV with my daughter when my Lil man came up complaining about his back hurting and asked if I would rub it. As I was rubbing his back I felt a huge lump. It wasn’t there before and was about the size of a golf ball. I asked if he bumped it but he said no. I secretly started to panic thinking of all the things it could and everything was the worse possible scenario. I made a doctor appointment and took him in the next day. The doctor was puzzled too. So she sent us for an xray. I kept calling about the results and driving the nurses crazy. By Monday I was livid and wanted answers. I had barely slept in 4 days and kept thinking this could be the last Christmas together. I know that is crazy for my mind to go there but I always feel like I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Finally around 1:30pm Monday I got a voicemail from the doctor. Everything looked normal! Now here we are a week later from when I discovered the lump it has almost completely disappeared. I feel stupid for panicking but I would have felt worse if it turned out to be the worse case scenario and I brushed it off.

But, in a way, I am very thankful that this happened. It opened my eyes to how fast your life can change and everything can be taken away from you. I feel like life has been going by so fast that I haven’t really enjoyed it. Or took time for the little things. This whole thing made me take a deep breath and relax. I feel like I am always planning. Planning a grocery trip, planning menus, planning homeschool for next week, month and year. I am always trying to get ahead instead of just stopping and enjoying what is now!

And on top of that it made me realized that tomorrow is not a guarantee. There are so many things that I always say I want to do but then never get around to doing. I always say oh maybe next year. But between being busy and my anxiety, it has prevented me from doing so much.

Not anymore!

YOLO~ you only live once~ my new life motto.

2014 is going to be the year of enjoying the little things and seeing and doing the things I always say we would do.

 

Back to basics~ turning frugal

6 months after we moved out here, the economy tanked and my hubby’s business took a massive hit. We had to quit paying on our credit cards and let 2 cars and hubby’s motorcycle get repossessed. It was awful feeling knowing you had a very, VERY successful business and in a blink of an eye it could all be taken away. But we kept at it and Hubby’s business was one of the few small cabinet shops to pull through. A lot of friends of his had to close their doors and walk away after years and years of being in business. We did everything we could to make it through and the best part is our children never knew we were poor. Today when I talk about the bad days, they are shocked. That I am thankful for.

During that time, I found ways to be frugal and live on cash only. Something I had never done in my entire life and something my hubby had to relearn. If there was no cash for it, then it wasn’t happening.

Now here we are 2013 and I have been looking back at all the stuff we spend money on that we really don’t need right that minute. First off, my hubby loves to spoil me and sometimes it’s very hard to say no when he wants to buy new boots (my obsession) or when he wanted to buy me an expensive camera because I said I would like to photography classes. And if a computer or TV breaks, we have to replace it ASAP. These are all things that could have been bought as christmas presents and he wouldn’t be struggling to get me something now. Hubby can be very extravagant sometimes, spend a $1000 at one time and not even blink. That shocks me.

We are still on a cash system, but have not been frugal at all. We eat out too much….way too much! And every time we go to the store the kids want drinks, snacks or toys. Hubby is constantly buying tools or other things he says he needs.

So with that said we have taken another hit. Now we need to cut back our grocery spending to just $500. I was spending anywhere from $800-$1000 and still listening to everyone complain there was nothing to eat. They also are in a phase of everything needs to brand name. My family also had an aversion to leftovers. Some family members would have a cow if they didn’t have a freshly prepared meal. I don’t even want to know how much money I threw out with all the leftovers.

Well change is coming. I am getting back to basics. The snacking all day is out! The sodas all the time is out! The fast food lunches is out!

We are self employed! We don’t have a 401K or retirement plan. We have only what we have saved. And since my hubby turns 40 next year and isn’t getting any younger. 2014 is my getting back to being frugal and saving year.

Time to break out the Dave Ramsey book and refresh.

My old life vs my new life

City Life vs Country Life

Stay at Home Mom vs Homeschooling Mom

I remember dropping the kids off at school and going to a PTA meeting. Then heading to the mall, Target or a restaurant for lunch. Grocery shopping with no kids was normal. I made sure all of my errands were done by the time I picked my kids up from school so I wouldn’t have to go out with all 3 of them.

But I also remember the traffic and the way our neighborhood was going down hill. Our kids had no yard to play in and even if they did I wouldn’t let them. The playground down the road was home to daily drug deals and bratty teenagers. All things my babies were not going to be exposed to.

Then again, I remember how much I loved my children’s school. How nice the teachers were. You couldn’t go ten feet without someone saying hello or good morning. The school was fantastic. Had we stayed in that area, I don’t know if I would have started homeschooling.

But then I remember the way I had to leash up my dogs and take them out one by one. I also remember how scary it was doing that in the dark.

Then we moved out here where there is no traffic except during our fair days. I have an acre and half for my kids and dogs to run in. No more leashes, drug deals and bratty teenagers (except my own).

Oh but the school, I hated it. I was supposedly part of the PTA board but they never included me. I was made to feel like I wasn’t welcomed because I was new. The teachers gossiped instead of greeting you when you walked through the halls. I remember being mortified when a teacher followed me out of a classroom to continue an argument with me. I remember being looked at with disgusted to whole rest of the year. I also remember constantly fighting with the teachers to follow my special needs child’s IEP. I also remember the way they let kids bully her because she didn’t look special needs.

And now I get up start my day with a cup of coffee. Get my oldest off to school and feel good knowing my other kids are right where they should be. Every child’s path is different. Every family’s life is different. There was a fork in the road for me and I could have stayed being the typical suburban mom or moved to country and become a totally different person.

My heart is fuller knowing I changed into someone who is not so shallow, not self absorbed and very much fighting for her kids. I wanted to fit into the whole status quo of what a suburban mom is: shopping, socializing and, yes on the outside, a good mom and wife.

But I honestly regret those years that I wasn’t home with my girls. I wish I lived out in the country from the beginning and homeschooled from Kindergarten and up. I wish I saw how fast that time was going to go by and treasured it a little more.

Better late than never though.

Here we go again! Throwing out the plans Part 2!

Yes, that is right. I am revamping our homeschool schedule again! This is what I love about homeschooling. The fact that I can stop and change directions on a whim is empowering.

So this what we were doing in the beginning.

I was trying to fit every subject into everyday. I was also trying to do preschool like I did it back 10 years ago in a daycare center. And I was trying to follow the Florida school calendar.

This didn’t work at all!

Then I began:

Doing split scheduling like I did last year. We also started 6 weeks on and 2 weeks off, except preschool. And mostly book work.

Forget about it. With 4 kids that have dentist appointments, doctor appointments, sick days and the everyday household running, I felt like I was flying through the 6 weeks, but not accomplishing anything and rushing my kids through. I would leave out the “fun” part of homeschooling~ all the hands on stuff. And I still had a preschooler who hated school. He woke up twice and told me my school sucked and that he hated school, especially coloring. Plus with Christmas here and all the fun of that, it is hard to fit in school, fun, errands and cleaning.

So for now we are just coasting through. Working on hands on projects, finishing up books that we were reading, practicing our writing and working on Math. For Lil Man, we are making everything hands on. More learning centers, more arts and crafts, more computer and tablet time. And it has been working so far.

But beginning in 2014, we begin a whole new chapter, which the girls and I are very excited about. We are starting back to school January 6 and I will be posting more regular updates then.

The last 4 weeks

The last 4 weeks have been a nightmare around here. It was bad enough that I was struggling with getting in the groove of back to “school”. But then Hubby just up and decided that he needed a vacation! He needed to get away from life, his responsibilities, stress, me, the kids….I don’t know. But he up and left for 2 weeks to Alabama and South Carolina to see family members.

In a way this was good and bad for me. One I don’t have to fight over the TV remote or listen to him bitch and complain about something not being done. I was also able to relax; I have to admit he was stressing me out for a bit. I also got down and dirty and cleaned out some areas of the house that needed to be sort through without him coming in and saying I need your help in the shop.

The bad part was now I had to get my high schooler to the bus stop by 6:20am and hope Lil man didn’t come looking for me. Because no matter what anybody told Hubby, when he left, they did NOT get up and help at all! I was also left to deal with the attitudes and the discipline instead of having moments where I pushed it off on him. The last bad part is I know this is only a one way road. There will be no vacation for momma by herself because the kids always have to come with me. Hell I can’t even go to the bathroom, let alone vacation by myself.

Then he came back home and 3 days later gets Pneumonia! REALLY?!? Can it get any worse? Yes! He got it from being stupid and fixing up an old barn and not wearing a mask. So he was down and out for a week and a half with it. During that week and a half, our septic pump and our hot water heater elements went out!

And now beginning our 5th week, I am sick. Not with pneumonia (I hope) but with some kind of sinus/ upper respiratory thing! But is anyone taking care of Momma?

I think all the stay at home whatever you are should start lobbying for hazard pay or something! This job is hard work!