Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Homeschooling Through the Alphabet: T is for Trends

One thing that I have really been noticing, these past few months in particular, is that homeschooling tends to shelter us just a bit from all the trends that I KNOW we'd be exposed to if my kids were in a traditional public school.

A trend is defined as whatever is popular.
Obviously trends come and go; some in the blink of an eye and some with a bit more staying power.

I can't say I have anything for or against trends and many of the bigger trends do find their way into our home, if at a slightly later date than in those homes of my boys' public school peers.

I have been noticing that I often don't even know what some of my mom friends are talking about when they refer to certain trends; like when they ask if my boys are into bottle flipping or want a fidget spinner (or whatever is currently popular).

We had just been talking about fidget spinners: what they were, how my friends were complaining they were hard to find, what they were originally intended to be used for, and how many schools were having problems with them when my oldest son just ended up getting a fidget spinner for his birthday later that same day!

Once he opened his gift and got an answer to his "what is it?" question,  he really has enjoyed playing with a bit here and there while he's watching TV or whatever.

My youngest two sons just do not get the appeal at all.  They are still marveling at the idea that many of their friends are so excited about fidget spinners that they were jumping up and down while talking about them and my boys were blown away to see an entire claw machine filled with fidget spinner packages.

IF my boys saw this set up they'd be thinking of drinking the water.. and that;s about it. 

Oftentimes my boys might know about a popular trend but they'll tell me they just don't get it and don't understand why some things become popular trends or why people just want something because everyone else has it.

I love that they are able to pick and choose what they are interested in based solely on what THEY are interested in!

Of course they are exposed to a wide variety of toys, video games, and trendy new songs/ videos by being with their peers and friends but they think nothing of saying that they don't like it nor admitting that they love something other people are telling them they don't enjoy or don't think is cool.

I love that homeschooling has helped them become individuals and ones with their own unwavering opinions at that!

Others in the series:

Homeschooling Through the Alphabet:
F is for Fun
G is for Games
H is for Heart
I is for Independent 
J is for Journey 
K is for Kitchen 
L is for Longevity 
M is for Moments 
N is for Nature
O is for Options
P is for Personalized
Q is for Quicker
R is for Recreation 
S is for Simple

Linking Up With:
A Net In TimeSchooling

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Love to Learn Hop- Last Week of May

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend.

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Monday, May 29, 2017

A Pirate's Guide t' th' Grammar Of Story

I just knew when asked if we'd like to review this product that my boys were going to love it.  This is not a paid advertisement but our honest review of a wonderful new writing program that we have been lucky enough to try out: A Pirate's Guide t' th' Grammar of Story

I knew within moments of reading about this writing curriculum that it sounded so fun and just like something my boys would LOVE!

And boy was I right!

What is not to love about being taught story making from a band of  talking monkey pirates and their trusty leader (while hunting for magical jelly beans)?

Before we even opened up our book the boys were laughing that we were going to be taught the grammar of story by a bunch of pirates that couldn't even talk "right."

The book starts out with the beginning of a story that lands the reader right in the middle of the story; literally landing right on a pirate ship.  

Next up is a letter written by Captain Yogger LeFossa explaining what is expected of young deckhands and how hard they'll have to work.  It's all written in pirate speak and I read this out loud to the boys as well in my best pirate impression.  

They were held captive from the beginning! 

When my boys see this out on our table in the morning they ask to do writing first!

Yep, they actually ASK me!!

They love sharing their ideas with each other and even though my boys are at an age when they could work on this independently we are having so much working on it together.  The curriculum is designed for children ages 8 and up and I am finding that it works so well with all three of my boys ( aged 9, 11, & 13).

I was afraid at first that my oldest might think it was babyish but he is finding it to be so much fun and cracks himself up with all the fun details he's making up.  It's wonderful to see my boys having so much fun letting their imaginations guide them while writing.

The lesson start out simple enough with a few fill in the blank areas then progress to a brainstorming exercise (With lots of examples and ideas to get them started).  

The book takes children through all the basic elements of story-- mindstorming, being specific, developing the setting, using symbolism, the importance of a backstory, having a villain, etc. 

Throughout the book there are pages where they are encouraged to raise the anchor and set sail; meaning they have a free write without any prompting. They were a bit put off the day they had to write their own story but they did push through and looked forward to the next day's lesson that focused on adding details and being specific. I suspect these free writes will get easier as we learn more elements and continue our way through the book.

They eagerly share what they have written with each other and sometimes go back to edit their sentences to make them even more comical.  They are giggling and smiling; which is something I have never experienced with them when it comes to writing!

This fun creative writing curriculum was written and designed by Christopher Hansen and J. R. Fehr.  Hansen is a story designer with over a decade's worth of experience training professional filmmakers and storytellers in creativity.  He's a published author and started a company called Wondertale that encourages people of all ages to find and tell their own stories. J. R. Fehr is a published author as well with three young adult fantasy novels under his belt.

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Linking  Up With: Homeschool Nook


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Sunday, May 28, 2017

A Look Back at All of Our Vacation for the Past 23 Years

I stumbled upon this wonderful blog post by Lindsay's Sweet World last week and just loved the idea!  With my husband and I celebrating our 16 year anniversary this past weekend I couldn't help but think back over married life (and the 23 years we've been together).  One thing that really stands out for me is all the wonderful vacations we've taken together.

It's fun to look back through the photos too. I realize that I was not very good at taking pictures those first few years and we are still quite bad at making sure we are both in any picture together; guess that's a new goal to set for the next 20 years.

Once I finished writing this post I was humbled by just how lucky and fortunate we have been.  I honestly had no idea that we had taken as many wonderful vacation as we had!  We truly are blessed to have so many wonderful relaxing times together.

Now onto the trips!

Old Orchard Beach, Maine-- 1994 & 1995 

One my very earliest memories is heading to Old Orchard Beach with my husband and his WHOLE ENTIRE family (mother, brother, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.).  I was still in high school and while I am sure my mom was nervous about me going I have such fond memories of the  beach and the beach house.  We spent our nights playing at the arcade, playing mini golf, and checking out the amusement park.  Days were spent lying in the sand, searching at low tide for sand dollars, and walking out along the pier.

Our first trip in 1994
Boardwalk in 1995

Old Orchard Beach and Kittery/ York, Maine-- 1996

Once we were off in college, we tacked a few extra days onto the end of his family's Old Orchard Beach trip and enjoyed a few nights by ourselves in York, Maine.   We enjoyed browsing the shops in Kittery and the beaches in York as well as visiting the York Park Zoo and eating the largest ice cream cone ever right near the light house.

Niagara Falls, New York-- 1998

Hubby had a job to do near Niagara Falls so I re-worked my schedule at the last minute to go with him on a road trip.  We only stayed over night but we had a great time eating at the Hard Rock Cafe and walking over to the Canadian side of the falls at night to see them all lit up.  We took an elevator down behind the falls on the american side and I had never been that close to the mist and the roaring water.

Las Vegas-- 1999

He was being sent to Las Vegas for a convention through his work and I was invited to tag along.  We stayed at the Monte Carlo.  The trip landed exactly during my spring break from college so I was thrilled to go.  Part of my husbands family was also attending the convention so all the men went to the convention during the day while us women went sight seeing and then we all went out to dinner and to a few really great shows in the evening together.  It was a perfect trip!

Old Orchard Beach-- 1999

We planned a fun couples vacation with friends of ours in Old Orchard Beach.  It was great showing off our old stomping ground with new friends and even better-- this couple is still great friends of ours to this day!

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire-- 1999

We stayed in Hampton beach and enjoyed the beach and the town tremendously.  We also took a side trip up to the Polar Caves.

Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania- 2000

We went to an all inclusive couples resort called Paradise Stream in the Pocono Mountains and that is actually where we got engaged!  We had a fabulous weekend biking, hiking, and swimming.

Honeymoon Cruise-- St Maarten, Nassau Bahamas, St. Thomas-- 2001 

We cruised the seas on Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas.  We enjoyed snorkeling, a kayak tour of a Mangrove lagoon, and eating so many new foods.  We had wonderful weather and calm seas.

Ocean City, Maryland-- 2001

Later in the summer we headed to Ocean City Maryland with a couple that my husband and I have known since grade school.  We spent a lot of time at the go- kart track and it is one of the only times in my life that I can ever remember winning a miniature golf game.  The only downside to this vacation was the phone call that my husband's grandmother had passed away.

Lake Winepesaukee, Hew Hampshire-- 2002 

We stayed in a charming lakeside cabin on Lake Winepesaukee for our first anniversary.  We went hiking, toured Castle in the Clouds and went on a lovely dinner cruise around the lake.

The view from our room 

York, Maine-- 2004

Ian's first vacation with us and he was not even a year old yet.  We spent a long weekend in York, Maine taking in the zoo, walking along the town, and giving him his first taste of ice cream.

Conway, New Hampshire-- 2005

Ian was not even 2 years old yet and I was pregnant with Alec when we decided we might as well try another family vacation.  We went to Storyland and stayed at a hotel right on main street in Conway.  We also visited Santa's Village. Unfortunately, Ian got sick in the middle of the night and I'll always remember this as the first time he ever had a febrile seizure. Luckily the staff at the Conway emergency room were fantastic and they had a pharmacy right on sight that filled a prescription for us right away.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts-- 2005

My mother in law and her friend rented a summer cottage in Cape Cod for the week and invited us up for a mini vacation.  Ian enjoyed his time at the beach and even cooperated so nicely for a seafood dinner out.  It was a really nice and fairly rural area so we were able to put him in his stroller and go for long walks.   I will never forget sitting in that house watching the coverage of Hurricane Katrina and all the damage it left behind.

Camden, New Jersey-- 2006

We took both of the boys to Camden New Jersey when Alec was still just a baby.  We went to the Camden Aquarium, the Philadelphia zoo, checked out a children's museum, and had our first visit to Sesame Place.

Walt Disney world-- 2007 

Our first trip to Disney when I was still pregnant with Evan.  We tried just a short 4 day trip and while we had fun it was a lot of work; especially when I was feeling a bit under the weather in the mornings.  I swore never to take really young children to Disney ever again.

Quebec, Canada-- 2008

Our town had planned a bus trip to Quebec and my husband and I decided to go as a late anniversary gift to ourselves; leaving the boys at home.  We had 4 days to explore the city; both new and old and had a wonderful time learning all about the area.  You might think travelling with a bus full of people that we might have had a photo taken together... but nope!

Sesame Place, Pennsylvania-- 2008

We headed back to Sesame place in 2008, remembering what a great park it was, even with young kids.  My mother in law came with us for the first time and it started a new family tradition of taking "grammy" on all our family vacations.

Evan, Ian and myself meeting the Count (Alec was terrified of the characters 2008)
Alec's look of panic at the character breakfast

Walt Disney World, Orlando Florida-- 2009

 We left Evan home with my mother- in- law since he was still a baby and my husband refused to go if we had to take him along.  Reminding me of my vow not to take young children to Disney again, I ignored that and booked the trip anyway.  The boys enjoyed meeting ALL the characters, riding the rides, and swimming in the hotel pool at the Wilderness Lodge.

2009--   My husband was working in Orlando for a few weeks while I was home alone with the kids and we decided that I would fly down myself and meet him in Orlando when his job finished up.  We spent 4 glorious days in Disney World alone.  It was the best second honeymoon ever!  We finally got to see all of the wonderful shows (that the kids would never have sat through), try some of the most amazing restaurants (that were not kid friendly), and go on all the "big kid" rides!  For some reason it felt like more a honeymoon than any other trip we had ever taken without the kids.  Maybe because I was finally finished with pregnancy, nursing, and babies.

Sesame Place 2010--  With all three boys at a good age to enjoy the park, the characters, the parade and the food we headed back to Sesame place in 2010.  My mother in law opted not to join us and wanted us to enjoy our vacation alone.

Hershey Park, Hershey Penn.-- 2010

On our way to Sesame place we stopped and spent a few days at Hershey Park.  Evan was getting better with meeting characters and all the boys loved the chocolate tour.  We did have problems riding ride with three young kids and only two adults.  We ended up taking turns whenever we could.

Sorry it's a bit blurry; kids do not like to stand still for photos! 

Walt Disney World, Orlando Florida -- 2010

We met up with our friends at Disney one year; they had girls the same age as our older two boys and we spent a wonderful night at dinner and through the Magic Kingdom with them. Evan was not a fan of meeting characters at all; until we met Snow White and Chip.  My mother in law came with us and spent a few afternoons with them at the hotel while they napped and my husband and I went to lunch, lounged around in a hammock, and spent some time riding adult rides the boys couldn't do; it was like a mini honeymoon inside of our family vacation!

Wilmington, North Carolina-- 2011

My parents and sister were living in North Carolina for a few years and we decided to take a long road trip to see them.  We had a great time checking out the Cape Fear Serpentarium, the aquarium, the children's museum, and, of course, the beach.  We had a fabulous time even though my husband had been diagnosed with Lyme disease and we had to stay out of the sunshine.  We spent our days indoors and our evenings on the beach.

Las Vegas, Nevada-- 2011

We wanted to celebrate our 10 year anniversary in a big way so we headed to Vegas and spent many a days sitting poolside at the Mandalay bay pool.  We toured the Hoover Dam, checked out the sights on Freemont street and enjoyed a fabulous show each and every night.

Jefferson, New Hampshire- 2011

We went to StoryLand, Santa's Village and 6 Gun City and stopped at the Polar Caves and water country on our way home.  We had such a great time this vacation that we decided to add one more day onto the end of our vacation while we were already driving home!

Storyland; Alec didn't like water rides so I sat off with him while my mother in law and my husband rode with the other two boys 

6 Gun city was a huge hit with the boys. They loved chasing the robbers around and putting them in jail.

All the boys hiked the whole park and panned for gold and gems! 
Walt Disney World-- 2012

We had another fabulous family vacation in Walt Disney World. It was the last time we visited Disney in the spring.

Orlando, Florida-- 2012

We started a new tradition the year we began homeschooling boys and started vacationing in the fall.  In September we decided to try a Florida vacation and not just a Disney vacation.  We stayed in the Nickelodeon hotel and went to Sea World, Medieval Times dinner show, Legoland,  and tubing down a natural springs.  We got to eat dinner with the Ninja Turtles and my parents drove down from North Carolina to spend a bit of time with us as well.  It was wonderful having so many grandparents on vacation with us!

Walt Disney World-- 2013

The next year found us back at Walt Disney World. It was a whole new experience visiting in September than visiting in February or March.  The boys were finally big enough to ride everything and no one needed any naps at all anymore.  We actually saw street performers at EPCOT, watched the boys participate in a Jedi Academy show, and tried out one of the water parks for the very first time.

Nashville, Tennessee-- 2014

My husband had to go to Tennessee for a last minute job.  Airfare was expensive and he asked if we were serious that we'd drive with him.  We packed up some bags and canceled some plans to head off last minute for a 4 day trip to Nashville.  His company paid for our gas and hotel (since they'd be paying that for him anyway!) and we had a very fun, if short, family vacation.  We toured the Opryland hotel, checked out the adventure science center, went to see the Athena Parthenon, and enjoyed an afternoon at the water park.  On the way home we discovered an armory museum on the side of the road so we decided to stop and check that out too!


Orlando, Florida-- 2014

Taking a break from Disney but still enjoying the warm Florida weather we took a trip to Universal Orlando, Legoland, kayaking down a natural springs, and over to the shore to see the Camden Aquarium (home of Winter from Dolphin Tale).  My boys could not wait to explore the Harry Potter world! My mother in law elected to stay home; feeling like the boys no longer needed her on vacation... so of course they spent the whole week fighting over who had to ride alone and wishing Grammy had come with us.

Great Wolf Lodge, Massachusetts-- 2015

We had received gift cards from my in-laws for Christmas and since no one could agree on any sort of family vacation we decided to just plan an overnight trip to Great Wolf Lodge, take a few fun day trips and call it a family vacation.  We had a fun time and were so thankful that the trip didn't cost us a dime!

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina-- 2016

We decided it was time to find someplace new for a fun family vacation.  I had fond memories of Myrtle beach from when I was a kid and and after looking around on the computer at the various places to stay and things to do the whole family finally agreed on a vacation.  We drove to South Carolina (with my mother in law) and had a wonderful stay at the Dunes Village resort.  We enjoyed the beach, the water park (in our hotel), and spent a lot of time at Broadway at the Beach.  We went miniature golfing, go kart racing, checked out the aquarium and a pirate themed dinner show.

I know my husband and I had a few more long weekend and overnight trips away from the kids.  I tend to leave the camera at home when it's just him and I and focus on enjoying our time together.

I can distinctly remember a trip to Cape Cod and a duck boat tour, walking around eating Ben and Jerry's ice cream afterwards.

We also went to Boston a few times to see shows and do some sightseeing. Somehow we always seemed to pick really cold and snowy days but I definitely remember eating at the Cheers pub, taking the T, and most recently taking a duck tour around the harbor.

We've also been back to Pennsylvania and the Pocono mountains to hike, shop, and remember the weekend we got engaged.

We're planning another trip away for just the two of us this year as we both reach milestone birthdays and want to celebrate a late anniversary... we just can't decide where to go!

Any suggestions?  What is your favorite vacation spot?

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