This Stranger's Life

The Summer was full of fun and a lot of relaxation.

Recently, our daily home routine underwent a bit of change when I returned to work. It was a necessary move for the good of the family and thankfully it has been working out. My Husband has been able to be home with the kids until I get home from work before leaving for his shift.  That means he is the main one making sure they do all of their work!

All of this has created a different tone in the house and it is a process that has taken some time to get used to.  I am still the main one prepping all of the assignments and grading but my husband is ensuring the kids get the work done. A bit of teamwork going on more than before when I was solely handling the homeschooling.

A few updates as to what is going on with the kids and their progress:

Bri is now learning at a ninth-grade level and she is super excited about all of the new things she is learning. She even got her own Notebook to complete her work on. It is just a starter device to see how responsible she will be with it. I have to admit that the high school work is fun and even I have learned some new things.  We both particularity enjoy the Oceanography class. Currently I am having to refresh my brain concerning Algebra, a subject I never thought I would encounter again. Yet, here I am trying to teach it to my child so she gains a good grasp on it in a way that I never did.

Mav has really improved this year with his writing. I have struggled a lot with getting him to write in complete sentences and fully forming his thoughts on paper. This year seems to be different in that he is taking more pride in his work. Although the length of the subject I have him writing about needs some work, he is putting forth the effort and that is what makes me proud. So far he does not have a favorite subject but he seems to be enjoying to classes more this year.

Audy is taking this year more seriously than she did last. Her alarm is always set to wake up on time and she is chipper and excited to get the work done. She has greatly improved her penmanship. It used to be like pulling teeth to get her to write anything. Thankfully this struggle is over and she is also very proud of her work. She is most interested in Science is always looking for extra work to do outside of what is assigned to her.

When I began homeschooling I had this nagging doubt in my head that I was not doing a good job. This is our third year and the first year where I feel completely confident in the direction we are going.  I feel like homeschooling is one of the best choices I could have ever made. It really gives me a sense of satisfaction that I can allow my kids to explore their interests but I can make sure they get the quality education that I felt I never really had.

Cheers to the beginning of a new school year that is already off to a great start!

The kids have been enjoying their summer break and honestly so am I. This school year had some bumps in the road but we were able to pull through. We appreciate this break!

Since the beginning of the summer break, we pretty much let loose and did not keep a schedule or work on any busy work.

However, after a few weeks, it seemed as if we were losing our minds a bit. Aside from visiting the beach and family time, it was boring around the house.

The kids and I sat down to create a loose schedule of how each day would work. It has been a welcomed change. The schedule allows for sleeping in, tidying the house, light school work and most importantly free time!

Here is the very loose Summer schedule the kids follow:

  • 9:30 am: Morning routine begins
  • 10:00 am: Breakfast
  • 10:30 am: Reading and then writing a small summary of what was learned
  • 11:00 am: P.E. using available equipment or Youtube videos
  • 12:00 pm: Lunchtime
  • 1:00 pm: Math Worksheets or videos
  • 2:00 pm: Free time

What are some ways you keep your kids busy during summer?

 

It’s true, my life is forever ruined as a result of being homeschooled.  Due to the freedom I had to learn from practically any location during my formative years, I now suffer from a pesky wanderlust that keeps me adding more and more countries and experiences to my bucket list each year.  My family’s adventures all started before my homeschooling years, truth be told.  My brave parents took me on an extended journey on the Trans-Siberian Railroad when I was only a few years old, and they tell me I slept on the floor in the train bunk rooms without much complaining.  Though I was too young to remember that ride, at least I have fun pictures to look back on like this one where we rented a van after finishing our journey on the Railroad and heading to explore Germany.

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Thanks to my parents’ desire to teach English while sharing the Gospel, they moved our family to China when I was 5 years old.  My homeschooling life started there, mainly out of necessity due to the lack of English schools in our area.  There were a few other American families in our city, so it was nice being able to spend time with their kids to quell the feelings of homesickness that hit from time to time.

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I’m so thankful for the opportunity I had to grow up in another country, and because of being homeschooled, the ability to travel and explore so many places throughout Asia.  My cultural lessons included things like attending the Peking Opera, and adding some geography knowledge by taking a cruise on the Yangtze River.  When not traveling,   learning Mandarin was probably my most frequent and effortless “class” as I played with the local children!

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Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

In addition to being able to learn in a non-traditional setting, I love the flexibility that homeschooling affords you to set your own schedule. If it’s a nice day outside and you want to take a “field trip” to the park, you can do that and just work more on other subjects the next day.  If your family is wanting to take a vacation during the week, you can take your schoolwork with you and not be tied to any physical location or timetable.   Life was definitely flexible, but it wasn’t without oversight as I still had to take standardized tests each year.  My Mom also had to turn in records of my performance to our state each month, but there was significant freedom to use the curriculum of our own choosing.

When we returned back to the US after living in China, my Mom continued to homeschool me until the 8th grade.   I’m glad to have experienced both types of schooling to compare the pros and cons – the main reason I switched in 8th grade was to be able to play sports.  I realize that homeschooling is definitely not the right fit for everyone, but if it does end up being what you choose for any period of time, rest assured your life will be forever “ruined” by a relentless pursuit of adventure, flexibility, and freedom to learn in the way that best suits your needs and personality.

I’d love to hear your questions and thoughts on homeschooling as it relates to travel.  You can read more about my adventures on my blog, Facebook page, or Instagram.    Thank you for reading!

About the Author

34035351_10105766194596769_7676865566103044096_nHi! I’m Emily Adams, a military brat and missionary kid who decided to combine two of my biggest passions (travel and wellness) to create my blog, The Planking Traveler.   Over the years, many of my trips have been ruined by my own sickness because I would throw “healthy” out the window once I left for vacation.  Though everyone needs some time to indulge, I realized that being healthy is a lifestyle to embrace and not something to abandon while on the go.  The goal of my blog is to share ways to thoroughly enjoy your travels in healthy and fit ways.

 

 

I have some exciting news! I will have a guest blog post from a former Homeschooler who credits home education with motivating her to travel around the world.

Emily’s blog can be found here at The Planking Traveler.

Check back next week!

 

As a kid, my parents would often make great dinners. But none were more fun than making our own pizzas.

My dad taught us to make French Bread Pizzas and to load them up with whatever toppings we wanted. I was not very picky so I would add as many things as that little piece of bread could hold.

Today, the kids got to make their own French Bread Pizzas. My kids are plenty picky so I only had basic toppings on hand. While I prepared mine I had flashbacks of when I was teen working at a pizza joint. It was a cool experience!

Ingredients:

1 French Bread Sliced and Halved

1 Jar of Pizza Sauce

1 16oz Bag of Mozzarella Cheese

1 Package of Pepperoni

1 Package of Canadian Bacon (Or you could use Ham)

Fresh sliced Mushrooms

I let each kid spoon enough sauce on each piece of bread and load their toppings. Meanwhile, I preheated the oven. Once the toppings were loaded we popped them into the oven for 13 minutes on 400. Oven times vary so just watch it.

 

 

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French Bread halved and sliced

 

 

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Pepperoni, Canadian Bacon, Mozzarella and Pizza Sauce

 

 

Step 3

Ready for the oven

 

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13 minutes at 400 degrees. Yummy!

 

 

What are your favorite pizza toppings?

The kids and I finally got around to doing that scavenger hunt we planned for back in October.

 

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I can never get a serious picture with these three 🙂

 

In many places, the weather is still warm, so there is still time to go out and play this activity. You can find the scavenger list we created here at our printable shop on Etsy to download. Thank you 😉

Down here in Southeast Texas it does not get cold very often and when the temperature does drop, it only lasts for a short time. So, that leaves us with very nice “winter” weather. Any time it is not hot and muggy is a win for everyone!

Our list was simple! By keeping it easy, the kids did not get bored. While they found some things quickly, others required they look past the obvious to find. We went to a nice little park near our house so we could find a variety of things.

Here is our list:

  1. A bug
  2. Something Colorful
  3. One piece of litter
  4. A smooth rock
  5. Something Fuzzy
  6. A chewed leaf
  7. Something beautiful
  8. Two different leaves
  9. A flower
  10. Something rough
  11. A stick

 

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1. A bug – A ladybug chilling on a table. 

 

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2. Something Colorful – This confetti on the ground.

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3. One piece of litter – This looked a bit too nasty to pick up and throw away.

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4. A smooth rock – A group of smooth rocks.

 

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5. Something fuzzy – These oak galls. 

 

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6. A chewed leaf – These leaves look like they were gnawed on.

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7. Something beautiful – The kids thought the reflection of the sun on the water was beautiful.

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8. Two different leaves – We counted the blade of grass as a leaf.

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9. A flower – One the few flowers that were still thriving.

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10. Something rough – The fence was pretty rough.

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11. A stick – He found the biggest one he could.

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Bri checking out something she found the base of this tree.

It was a bit chilly outside and the kids were eager to get back into the car. Once we made it home we sipped on hot chocolate and talked about all the cool things we saw.


 

What are some fall/winter outdoor activities you like to do with your family where you live?

 

 

 

 

Pizza Muffins

What a great recipe to get the kids involved with!

In Dianes Kitchen

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These Pizza Muffins make a great grab and go snack or a meal! I made these as a meal with the Grandkids but my husband is the one that loved them the most! I made these with pizza dough, a lot of pepperoni, cheese and a little sauce. I left the rest of the sauce to dip the muffins in after they were baked. YUM!

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Ingredients – (I ended up not using the butter)

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Cut the pizza dough in half making two equal pieces.

Unroll each piece.

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Sprinkle the chopped up Pepperoni evenly on both pieces of

dough keeping it away from the edges.

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Sprinkle cheese on top of pepperoni.

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Use a spoon and put a thin line of sauce over the cheese.

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Roll up both pieces of the dough starting at the

short end and going to the other short end.

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Using your hand gently squeeze and make the

View original post 178 more words

Having It All Together

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As a new homeschool mom, I am constantly bombarded with questions about how the kids are getting a proper education. In the past, I would immediately put my guard up because it felt like an attack on my personal ability to be able to fully educate my children. Then I learned that education can mean different things to different people.

To some, it’s important for children to be in a classroom all day learning with a teacher and dealing with their peers. And I totally get why this is “normal” to them. It’s a safe way to make sure your kids are getting their education and they don’t somehow fall through the cracks of society. Afterall, most parents have demanding work schedules and who has time to even help with homework after a long day? I know that struggle we lived it for years. That’s when we finally decided enough was enough with the rat race.

In my opinion, the benefits of homeschooling are just enormous. The kids are free to pursue what their interests are and have time to develop them. Core subjects can be discussed at length and broken down to suit the needs of each child. The field trips can be designed around which subject we’re studying, which causes the subject to become real. Here is an example of our Sea Turtle field trip. This trip made a lasting impression on the kids and they became more sympathetic to not just the delicate balance of marine life but of animals all over the world.

I used to dislike homeschooling families. I thought they looked down on us parents who put our kids in public school. They seemed to have a perfect little life spending time with their kids and creating memories, while I was stuck in an office all day wishing I could be at home. But once we became a homeschooling family I learned that it’s a not a perfect life. It’s a real struggle every day to provide all three meals, keep on task with school work, making sure the kids help with housework, keep them socialized and on and on. It can be tough but the benefits outweigh the negatives by far.

We have become closer as a family. I have learned so many things about my children that I probably would not have discovered if we held to our old way of life just to have that extra income. I know Audy is really into science and engineering. Bri loves art and wants to make video games. Mavi wants to work with animals. These are things we never talked about before because we were too busy. If you’re thinking of homeschooling don’t let self-doubt creep in. Talk to your kids about it and see where they stand. It took us a full year to decide if we were ready.

There is no such thing as having it all together. We take each day one at a time. Each moment as it comes. Why not the next time you encounter a homeschooling family ask questions of course, but also give the kids some words of encouragement?

Because honestly the best thing any of us can do in our lives is just hold it together.

What about you? Have you had to defend your decision to homeschool?

My children have been asking me to spend more time with them more recently. I thought this was an odd request due to the fact that we are always around each other. Choosing to be a stay at home mom was not an easy choice to make. It meant we would be down one income but on the flip side, it would create more opportunities to guide and educate our kids. Our kids will not be so little forever and will eventually grow up and move on with their lives. Work can wait.

Choosing to be a stay at home mom was not an easy choice to make. It meant we would be down one income but on the flip side, it would create more opportunities to guide and educate our kids. Children are only young once and will eventually grow up and move on with their lives. Work can wait.

I told my husband that the kids mentioned they wanted more time with me. He suggested that perhaps I was not as present as I thought I was. Turns out he was right.

The kids and I held a meeting the next day in order to determine what the real problem was. Their number one complaint, drum roll please, was me spending too much time on my phone. The second was not really listening when we are having a conversation.

OK, what parent is not guilty of one of these or both? Back to being a stay at home mom. If you’re honest with yourself, you can admit that it can get pretty boring and repetitive. My phone is an outlet or

Back to being a stay at home mom. If you’re honest with yourself, you can admit that it can get pretty boring and repetitive. My phone is an outlet or a type of escape from the mundane things around the house. However, I never have it out during school hours. The time we spend learning is very important and the kids and I both respect that boundary.

It is the rest of the day where we all seem to go our separate ways, right through dinner and until bedtime.  I do in fact get my “me” time by carving it out. The early morning hours is my time to focus on myself. This includes workout, meditation and Bible reading. I am by no means a morning person but I found this was the best time to focus on me.

So after our meeting, we decided to put a few things into practice:

  • Absolutely no electronics at meal times.
  • If someone is speaking, put down the phone and be engaged and give a thoughtful answer.
  • Understand that at times we may not be heard and that is OK.

Kids need to know the world does not revolve around them. So, naturally, there will be boundaries in place that are aimed to help them understand that nagging is not tolerated. If I said no once then don’t ask me another million times in an attempt to try and wear me down.

Also, they understand that not every moment of the day can and will be spent with them. They need to use their imagination to play and create moments for themselves.

I am confident that moving forward that I will be able to be more present and not just merely there.

Have you had to overcome a similar challenge? Sound off in the comments!

This summer has been filled with fun times and some boring times.

Regardless, the kids and I had a very relaxing time off from our busy homeschool schedule.

School for us starts in August and we’re ready to get back to it…or at least I am ready.

As I have mentioned before I need structure throughout the day and having the summer off has been a little bit of a challenge for me. It’s almost like I am lost without my schedule.  We follow a very loose schedule each day but with our many activities it can be tough to stick to it. Obviously, my kids have no problems being wild and free!

I am starting to see more and more back-to-school sales and am relieved I don’t have to come up with the cash to spend on uniforms, shoes, supplies and backpacks for all three kids. We buy school supplies as needed throughout the year. However, I am not against taking advantage of the sales to bump our supply cache.

Last year, for our first year of homeschool, I bought a ton of supplies because I didn’t know what we would really need. I ended up writing a post about what items we decidedly couldn’t live without that you can check out here.  Decorations is on the list but you really don’t need them, it’s more of a want.

Some supplies for this year include:

  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Erasers
  • Printer Ink
  • Printer Paper
  • Dry Erase Markers
  • Magnets ( I make my own magnets that you can purchase. Please and thank you!)
  • Basic Art Supplies such as paint, glue, scissors, markers, paint surface paper

I have to schedule the field trips for the year and that shouldn’t be too hard. There is always something to do around here.

Are you looking forward to school starting? If you homeschool what do you look forward to the most this year?

 

When the kids were attending public school it was so easy to put money on their lunch accounts each week and send them off! Now, that the kids are home and I am no longer working, I have had to come up with easy yet filling meal options. All the while keeping in mind general dislikes and likes of the family. It was not easy at first to come up with lunch and breakfast ideas but with tips I got from other moms and things I remembered from my childhood I was able to make it work.

We like to keep breakfast and lunch very simple. I scoured the web for easy lunch ideas but everything involved cooking or meals with too many ingredients. I came up with this standard menu but we try to switch it up.

Here are some things we do for breakfast and lunch:

Breakfast:

  • Monday – Breakfast Tacos
  • Tuesday – Oatmeal (whatever toppings or mix-ins)
  • Wednesday – Eggs, Black Beans and Fried Plantains
  • Thursday – Bagel with Cream Cheese and Yogurt
  • Friday – Eggs and Bacon with Toast

Lunch:

  • Monday – Quesadillas, Avocado and Chips and Salsa
  • Tuesday – Ham Sandwich with Chips and Fruit
  • Wednesday – Humus with Pita Chips, Turkey and Cheese
  • Thursday – Pinto Bean Burritos (there are some seriously good recipes out there)
  • Friday – Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup

Snacks

  • Smoothies
  • Apples, Oranges, Grapes, Mangoes, Kiwis, Berries
  • Walnuts, Almonds and Sunflower Seeds
  • Crackers, Pretzels, Pita Chips

 

We have been so much happier cooking our food at home. We can control the ingredients and customize them to our tastes. Meal times are so much more enjoyable because they present opportunities for us to talk about the day.

So there you have it! Quick, easy and simple!

What are some breakfast and lunch ideas that you would like to share?  Share in the comments!

 

School

That’s right! School is out! We get to be lazy and lounge around the house. Who doesn’t like that?!

When we started the school year, as a family we agreed that our homeschool structure would be year round. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

In May of this year when we were gearing up for the next round the kids told me they wanted to have the summer off.

We sat down and discussed why they felt having the summer off would be a good idea. I was hesitant to accept this route but decided to listen to their thoughts.

All three kids said they worked so hard during the year they wanted time off to spend with their cousins and friends. They just wanted to relax and celebrate their hard work and the end of our first year of homeschool. It was that simple!

How could I say no to that? The kids expressed their opinion and wanted to modify our previous plan. After all, isn’t this what homeschool is about? Having the freedom to change your schedule and meet your child’s needs? Why are we doing this if we aren’t listening to each other?

So, I expressed my concern to the kids about them possibly being bored and they brought up the point that when they were in public school they had the summer off and things were just fine.

Point taken so we changed to a “traditional” school year and the kids are really happy. We have more freedom to play around or be lazy. Having the summer off will also help with not feeling burned out.

That doesn’t mean the kids don’t have any work to do. They still need to read 15 mins a day and do XtraMath two times a week to keep their skills sharp.

We are a little over half a month into our vacation from school. Not having a scheuled day was really killing me and I decided to do something about it.

Each morning during the school year I write our schedule on the dry erase board. It isn’t rigid but mainly a guideline to make sure our work gets done. This guideline has a two-fold purpose. One is to help the kids to be independent in reading the schedule and get the task down without me asking.The second reason is so the day makes “sense” in my head.

The first couple of weeks we didn’t have this schedule was driving me crazy. This week I made a loose schedule and it has worked so well!

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The “Did you know” fact is changed out twice a week.  This is an example of our summer day.  It changes from day-to-day depending on what activities we have planned.

Initially, I thought having the summer off would be a bad idea but as it turns out I love it and so do the kids.

If you homeschool or send your kids to public school what activities do you have for them to keep busy? Share in the comments!