Choosing The Right Book

Buying a new book is so exciting! The kids love to visit bookstores and pick up a new adventure to dive into. Mav is really big into the Wimpy Kid books. It is a pretty big deal that he is reading since he would rather be on the couch playing video games. What teen wouldn’t like to do that? However, with the Wimpy Kid books, he really gets into them and that makes me smile.

One day, not too long ago, he picked up a copy we had of a Wimpy Kid book and just started reading out loud to me. I was in the middle of something but it occurred to me that he never read a book on his own and now here is even giving the characters life. I make every effort to pay attention when he reads to me and make sure I react when he puts extra effort. He started reading to me at night and it became a routine until we finished the book. Needless to say he was ready for the next book.

Decisions, decisions…

The girls, on the other hand, love to read and will devour most books. Bri ended up picking a book that I would not have chosen but it seemed cute enough. She chose a fictional book about a pair of dogs and their family. I haven’t asked her how she likes it so far but judging by the bookmark placement she is making good progress.

She knows what she wants.

Audy did not know what to pick and everything I suggested she shot down. We stumbled across a book about anxiety. It was a comic style book that the author had made to chronicle her life, in a humorous but serious way, dealing with anxiety. Audy didn’t want the book but she deals with anxiety on a daily basis and I felt it would be good for her to know there are others out there like her. what I didn’t know was how much that book would help me in terms of teaching myself how to help her when an anxiety attack strikes. She ended up really liking the book and it helped us have a great conversation of what she needs from me and what I can expect of her as learns to cope.

All in all, we had a good trip to the store and we got some good things. I purchased a list book that seems like lots of fun.

What are some of you favorite books to read? What would you recommend for school aged children?

Homeschool Blogs

I have noticed that there are not many homeschool blogs dedicated to talking about routines and learning strategies for older kids.

Our family started homeschooling when the twins were transitioning from public school out of third grade and our oldest out of sixth. There was a ton of information for pre-schoolers and kids under the fourth-grade level. I get it, most people begin homeschooling when their children are very young and make that decision early on and have a routine established. However, there are a few of us who get into the game late.

Homeschool has always been on my radar but I also felt the kids needed to get out there in the world and learn from other people. It turns out that while public school certainly did accomplish them being exposed to learning from other people it didn’t give them the quality I was looking for.

My kids love homeschool and at times they can be lazy and I have to get after them to do their work but that’s not uncommon in any setting.

I am hoping to add more blog posts around what a homeschool day is like for older kids. It’s not all cuddling on the couch with a book as you would with a four-year-old. It’s about keeping them engaged and excited to learn. Making sure they put their full effort into learning the material and to stay motivated.

My hope is that for any parents who are making that transition from public school to homeschooling older kids is that they know that it’s not going to be easy in the beginning and there will be struggles. But with the bad comes the good. Being present with your pre-teen or teenager will help forge new bonds and as a family, you will be surprised to see how much you can really learn from them as they become more comfortable sharing their hopes and dreams with you.

As you help them define their interests, you are setting them up on a path that could lead to a career that they will love and put their heart into.

Bri has decided she wanted to share her routine for the blog coming soon. So, look for that!

 

 

 

Year Three Begins

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!

Staying Busy Over Summer Break

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?

 

Hurricane Prepardness

Hurricane season is something most people who live along the coast simply dread. While living near the water is a beautiful thing, in this world it could mean that one day you may be faced with impending disaster. Last year my family learned some valuable lessons while prepping and surviving a major hurricane.

Hurricane Harvey hit with such ferocity that even seasoned hurricane veterans were shaken. It was an event none of us will soon forget.

So, what if this is your first time preparing for a Hurricane? Well, there are plenty of websites and resources you can consult for the average things you would need to ride out the storm.

The most important thing is to never procrastinate when it comes to gathering Hurricane supplies. You do not have to buy everything all at once. Buy a few things at a time and keep them stored up in a place where you will not be tempted to dip into snacks or other goodies.

The NOAA ( National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has some very good information on how to prepare for a hurricane.

As far as the purpose of this post, it will be focused more on the basics you will need to help you get through.

Non Food Supplies:

  • Flashlight
  • First Aid Kit
  • Contact information for family members – Be sure other family members know your evacuation destination if you must leave. Include your pets in your evacuation plan.
  • Essential baby supplies – These include diapers, formula, bottles, wipes, extra clothes, etc.
  • Cash – In case ATMs are down or stores do not have electricity.
  • Disposable cups, plates, utensils and paper towels.
  • Coloring books, puzzles, board games or anything to keep children busy if the electricity goes out.
  • Manual can opener
  • Medication
  • Important documents – Be sure to secure important documents by placing them in a waterproof/fireproof container.
  • Fill your car tank with gas
  • Something we learned from other examples during Harvey was that if you own a home keep an ax in your attic in case of severe flooding, so you will not be trapped and can escape to the roof while you await rescue. This is in an extreme situation.

Food Supplies for at least three days:

  • Shelf stable milk such as Soy, Coconut or Almond
  • Canned or boxed foods such as soups, tuna, salmon, chicken, green beans, beans, corn, noodle soups, etc. Though vegetables taste better heated it is still good to have them in case power goes out.
  • Peanut Butter
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Snacks such as cookies, chips, popcorn, salsa, brownies, rice cakes, etc. These foods can help the family deal with anxiety and provide some comfort.
  • Granola bars, trail mix or nuts
  • Fruits that do not need refrigeration
  • Bread
  • Coconut water
  • Protein powder for a boost
  • Pet Food
  • 2 Gallons of water per person

There you have it! These are just a few suggestions if you are at a loss for how to prepare.

If you have lived through a hurricane what are some things you use to get ready?

Guest Blog Post – How Being Homeschooled Ruined My Life

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.

Emily Pic 1

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.

Emily Pic 2

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!

Emily Pic 3

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.

 

 

Momma Self Care

Whether we homeschool or not, taking care of a family is challenging! It can be extra challenging when both mom and dad work.

As mothers, we can get so caught up in caring for our family’s needs, that we forget about our own or push them off till “later”.

I have spoken with some of my friends and acquaintances and many times I hear the same thing.

“I want to make sure my family is taken care of and if that means sacrificing my “me” time then that is the way it is going to be.”

Sure, there are times when as moms we may need to push some of our wind down time off due to circumstances we cannot control. But do we make a regular habit of it?

No matter if you are a stay at home mom or a working mom you must take care of yourself. And do not feel bad about it!

Here are some things I have learned that help me to take better care of myself:

Take A Nap

Now, you might feel like this may make you seem lazy. Not true! There is a lot of research out there that shows napping, even for 20 minutes, can help you to feel alert and rested. If you nap longer than that you may wake up feeling groggy and that is counterproductive. Kids of all ages can benefit from nap time. To get the kids to nap when they were younger I would tell them just to rest in their beds with their eyes closed. It usually worked and as we developed a good routine. When I was working I would nap in my car. Yes, I really did that and set my phone alarm. It helped me tremendously.

Be Creative

Pinterest has some great ideas for hobbies. Create a board and pin all sorts of fun things you would like to attempt and actually do them! Whether you like sewing, painting, crochet, makeup, gardening or anything else get to it. My favorite things are to crochet and experiment with different makeup looks. Some people think you must have an artist’s mind to get creative and that is not true. Take a minute to see what inspires you. You will be surprised what you come up with.

Enjoy Some Fresh Air

Step outside and take a few deep breaths. Getting some sunshine on your face and breathing fresh air can be incredibly renewing. We can get so caught up in the day to day activities that we can forget to enjoy nature. It’s free, beautiful and invigorating.

Time Alone

Whether you like to walk the aisles of your favorite store or go find a quiet area to sit in a bookstore, find some time to just chill out. There are so many things you can do to spend time alone. When I was working I would come home, kiss my kids and tell them I needed my wind down time. I would shower change into my comfy clothes and sit quietly while listening to soft relaxing music. The total time I spent was 20 minutes. I found that after my time I was ready to handle the needs of my family. When you are a stay at home mom it can be harder to draw that line but you have to be creative and just do it. For relaxing music,  here is one of the videos I listen to.

Keep In Touch With Friends

This does not include social media. I repeat, this does not include social media. While social media has its uses, it can put limits on real-life relationships. Many times we can assume that since we talk to our friends over the net we really do not need to see them in person. But do you really feel refreshed after checking your social media accounts a 1,000 times per day? There is nothing like meeting a friend for coffee, lunch, margaritas or at a park for a quick walk. Just make sure not to neglect face time.

Healthy Food Choices

Cut down on sugar and junk food. I know lots of people who eat foods that are bad for them simply because they are stressed or bored. Try reaching for healthier foods that give natural energy. Look into probiotics, vitamins and other supplements that will help you stay healthy and in great shape to keep up with the demands of the family. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this website.

Excercise

Boy oh boy. Just saying the “E” word is tiring.  You do not have to go to a gym. There is no shortage of free videos that feature Yoga, Pilates, Cardio or anything else you think of on the internet. Make time in the morning or early afternoon to get in about 15 minutes of movement. Do enough to get your blood pumping and those arteries flexing. Start with a stretch, then movement, then a cool down. Make it a habit and you will even see improvements in your mood. Check out this video for a 15-minute exercise you can do at home.

Get Dressed Everyday

If you’re a working momma then this is not optional. You throw on your clothes and slap some chapstick on and run out of the door. Try setting out your outfit the night before and mapping out which makeup look you will go for and have all the tools set out. Have everything you need ready so you can get dressed without the rush. If you’re a stay at home momma, do the same. Have your clothes laid out and plan the time you need to properly groom. A lot of women are afraid of makeup because they think they will apply it wrong and end up looking like a clown. Today there are so many different types of makeup and natural products that you can easily learn how to apply them. Stay at home mommas might think there is no use for makeup but it really helps lift your mood. Here is a 5-minute makeup look for moms that you can watch.

I hope these tips were helpful for you. If you already take time for yourself share some things you do in the comments.

 

French Bread Pizza

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.

 

 

Bread Step One.jpg

French Bread halved and sliced

 

 

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Pepperoni, Canadian Bacon, Mozzarella and Pizza Sauce

 

 

Step 3

Ready for the oven

 

Step 4 done.jpg

13 minutes at 400 degrees. Yummy!

 

 

What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Cold And Flu Season

Well, it’s that time of year again folks. Cold and Flu season is in full swing and boy oh boy is it ugly.  I found some information on the most recent Flu statistics you can read here on the CDC’s website.

We have been fortunate over the past few years to escape the flu’s cold hand. (See what I did there 😉 ) My husband caught the Flu over 10 years ago and it was him who brought it home from work this time.

As soon as he came home with the chills and sweats I immediately went out and bought disinfectant wipes, spray, and bleach.

I managed to keep my husband comfortable and warm during the worst part of his four-day illness.

“Do not touch or talk to daddy right now!” I emphatically told the kids.

Right then he was our little outbreak monkey and needed to be quarantined!

After a few days, my oldest started to feel sick. Every mom knows that when the kids get sick, well mom ends up getting sick. That is exactly what happened, 3…2…1 boom, down for the count. I went down for two solid days and needed another two days to fully recuperate.

Here are some things we did to keep the sickness from spreading as much as possible:

  • Zicam – We all took this the moment my husband got sick. I credit it will helping shorten mine and my daughter’s symptoms.
  • Vitamin C – I take this every day as a supplement but I bought orange juice for the kiddos and pineapples for the husband to munch on.
  • Kefir – I drink one cup of Kefir every day. I believe this really helped me to kick the flu faster. Read about the benefits of Kefir here.
  • Essential Oils – A mix of Eucalyptus and Lemon in a diffuser helped keep the bedroom air clean.
  • Fresh Air – Every day I opened the windows for a few minutes to air out the house.
  • Soups – Warm broths and soups were the way to go.
  • Sanitizing – Disinfectant wipes, sprays, hand washing and linen washing went a long way. We also replaced our toothbrushes when everyone felt better.
  • Sleep – Plenty of rest and mini naps really helped us to heal.
  • Hydration – This should be number one on the list. Staying hydrated is so important. Keep bottled water or sports drinks by the bed for easy access.

Our symptoms we not bad enough to make a trip to the doctor. Children are the most sensitive to viral infections but they are remarkably resilient. So, this goes without saying, if you feel a trip to the doctor is in order then, by all means, make the trip. Thankfully the other two kids did not get sick. I say three out of five is not all that bad 🙂

What are some things you do to ease Flu symptoms? Share below!