Eclipse 2017

The kids and I have been eagerly awaiting the eclipse that was to happen here in North America. Today was the day and we were not prepared!

(The featured photo is from NASA. The link is below)

Since we live in Texas, visibility was only at sixty percent so we knew it would not be a huge difference. We did however, notice the sky had changed and it looked a bit like early evening.

Unfortunately, we did not have viewing glasses and I never got around to making the eclipse viewer with the kids. ( Yeah I know :/)

We did go outside and try to look up at the sun but like I said without the glasses to cancel out the surrounding light it was disappointing. It was still nice to go out and experience the light change in the middle of the day. Another thing I noticed it was also not as blazing hot outside for the middle of the day.

Here are our pictures:

 

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This photo was taken at 1:16 p.m. The sun was still pretty bright. 
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A view without a filter. The lighting outside was a bit darker as you can probably tell from the color of the tree.  This photo was taken at 1:25 p.m.
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A friend of mine was able to capture this photo from Houston.  Photo Credit: Olya Valyan

Here is the link to the site for NASA. You can see more photos of the eclipse and get more information.

The next eclipse will be in April 8, 2024 and here in Texas we will have greater visibility.

Were you able to see the eclipse? Share your experience below.

School’s Out For Summer But Not Foreva

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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! 

A Little Motivation Goes A Long Way

We all need a bit of motivation or incentive when it comes to boring or mundane tasks. Let’s face it, no one and I mean no one likes to do chores. As parents we often have to be creative when it comes to getting our kids to do certain tasks they that they do not want to do.

As a homeschooling family, chores an essential part of the day. When the kids were in public school the house was a mess because we never had time to do any cleaning. Coming home was more of a pit stop, with shoes and backpacks tossed everywhere. We all reasoned that since we were so tired we would wait until the weekend to clean up. But when the weekend came we wanted to use our off time for fun not staying home to clean up!

It was difficult to get the kids to see the importance of making sure our home was neat and organized. I mean, we were not living in filth, we were just messy and nothing had a place. I tried everything I could think of to get the kids to complete their tasks with pride and satisfaction but chore time was always met with whining and grumpy faces.

Most people might reason that since the kids live in the house they should just clean it and that’s that! To a degree that is reasonable. But back to the title of this blog, a little motivation and incentive goes a long way.

For the past month the kids and I have developed a little test program. Every day they have a chore chart with chores that I assign to them. At the beginning of the week I fill out a “check” with their name on it. Instead of printing new “checks” each week I reissue the same one to save on paper and ink. They are responsible for keeping up with that check and handing it to me every Friday for successfully completeing their chores. It’s a way to get them to do the chores and allow them to earn money instead of being handed an allowance.  I have two ten-year olds and a twelve-year-old so the idea of a check with their name on it is pretty exciting.

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Check template can be found here. I edited the Bank Name, School Name and Address.

The way the chore chart works is when the chore is complete they mark the time, using an analog clock. I also work with them on the chores to make sure they clean effectively and not just according to what they think is clean. That doesn’t mean I hover over them and pick out everything they missed. Instead I want to show them the proper way and also that I am working alongside with each one of them and not sitting on the couch eating bon bons. But they do the heavy lifting with the chores they are assigned.

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Chore Chart – Magnets can be found at my Etsy Shop (Shameless plug 😉 )

The kid have been super motivated and enjoy their work knowing they get paid at the end of the week for a job well done. I have seen a great improvement in their attitude and thoroughness of completing their job.

 

What have you done to help motivate your kids to do their chores? Share in the comments!

Sea Turtle Field Trip

 

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Visting NOAA Fisheries Sea Turtle Lab in Galveston Texas

This week in science class,the kids learned about the seven species of Sea Turtles. As a special treat we went on a field trip to the NOAA Fisheries Sea Turtle Research Lab in Galveston Texas to learn more.

The whole experience was great. Our tour guides were patient with all of the kids who were present and thoroughly educated them on the plight of sea turtles. After about an hour educational session we were finally able to see the turtles. I had never seen one, like, ever!! So, it was super exciting for me.

We stopped in a field where our tour guides showed the kids what a TED is. The turtle excluder device or TED is a specialized device that allows a captured Sea Turtle to escape when caught in a fisherman’s net. Each kid had to hold their breath while running through the net to escape through the device. Holding their breath helped the kids to appreciate what a Sea Turtle would have to do.

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Learning about the Turtle Excluder Device for fishing nets

 

After the demonstration we headed inside the turtle barn. There were all Loggerhead turtles in the facility but Kemp’s Ridley are the main turtles who nest and frequent the Texas Coast. Us natives know that y’all. Sorry my Texan slipped out. 😉

All in all it was worth the six month wait. It was such a beautiful day that we headed down the Sea Wall and walked the beach. The kids got to see a Moon Jellyfish and Barnacles attached to a rock. I am not a fan of barnacles but it was cool to see the kids so fascinated by them.

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Loggerhead Sea Turtle
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Loggerhead Sea Turtle
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Loggerhead Sea Turtle
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Moon Jellyfish on the Beach

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Technically, I did get to see a small sea turtle that was less than a year old. I think that qualifies as a baby and thus fulfills one activity on my Life List!

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I got to see a baby Sea Turtle. Life List checked!!

I do know that Sea Turtles are on the endangered animals list so I was not expecting to hold one today. Hopefully one day, I can have the privilege of holding one.

On the Gulf Coast we know not to touch Sea Turtles or disturb their nests. If you visit the coast and see Sea Turtle tracks or an actual turtle you can call 1-866-Turtle5 and someone will come out to assess the area.

Have you ever seen a live Sea Turtle or the nest hatchlings?

 

Looking For Something That Is Not Lost

Today the kids and I went Geocaching. Geocaching is the recreational activity of hunting for and finding a hidden object by means of GPS coordinates posted on a website.  This activity was part of my life list and I can now update the date!

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Before hunting for the hidden objects.

The first search was conducted at a park near our home.  We used my phone in order to find the coordinates of the hidden object.

It was hard to know what to look for but the description and hints were  extremely helpful. Be sure to read up on Geocaching etiquette and terms.

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Success! The first object we found.

We moved to our second location to a business park further down the road and found this one in a muddy field. Our shoes and socks got wet but the kids had fun getting messy.

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The second object we found.

We had so much fun looking for these that we plan on hunting for more in the coming weeks. I will be taking a vacation soon so I plan on looking for more objects where I will be headed.

Have you tried Geocaching? If so what was your experience?

Health & Fitness

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If you would have asked me, when I was a teen, what my health would be like in 10 years I would have answered that I would be healthy and living life to the full. Throughout high school and early twenties I was into fitness and eating well…for the most part. But as almost every parent knows eating well and exercising are hard to fit into the day.

It does not help that we live in a major city and there is food from a variety of different cultures on every street corner. It’s easier to say you will cook tomorrow night and order in!

It was not until a couple of years ago that I noticed my health was taking a turn for the worse. I had constant headaches and migraines. If you don’t know the difference between a headache and migraine, ask a migraine sufferer. Worst.pain.imaginable.

Fatigue, depression, lack of motivation and a host of other ailments began to over take me. I am not writing this post to tell you what new diet to try or discuss the latest exercising fad. The point is to share something I knew to be true a long time ago but I did not put into practice.

Eating well and exercising! Yeah, that is it. The secret weapon. Now, I do understand many people have health problems and need their medication. I am not saying to stop any of that. But it is helpful to learn about what could be the source of your health issues and work to eliminate  foods or activities that have a negative impact in your life.

For instance I had to go cold turkey from sugar. It was rough and tougher than I thought it would be. Detox symptoms are no joke! Sugar is in everything! Once I started on to make those changes for myself  I began to include my kids. After a year of no soda we barely drink it anymore. It’s not the first thing we request to drink. I am proud of our progress.

Another thing we do around here is smoothies. Ask many of my friends and they will tell you I am a smoothie guru! It is a perfect way to wake the kids up and get them started on their school work. We also do smoothies for a snack a couple of days a week. I do not know about anyone else but blended food is not always on my meal list. I like to chew! So we limit these.

Check this guide out on how to make a yummy smoothie:

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As far as a workout routine, there are so many people on the internet willing to share their knowledge. Not every workout works for everyone. The kids and I start out with light stretching and then a 7 minute workout. We bought yoga mats and special workout clothes that makes the process more fun! We will post a fitness article on how we start our day.

In conclusion it has been a couple of years of fighting off bad habits and trying to replace them with good ones. I still have some ailments I am working through but I am proud of my journey thus far.

Care to share any health recipes that you have found particularly yummy?

An Unexpected Trip To The Texas Capitol

We took the kids on a day trip to visit a little place where we love to get pecans. It is about 20 miles from Austin.  We live about two hours from Austin so it was not an entirely long trip but with three kids in the car they can get fidgety. I will say this, the kids did not appreciate my 80s/90s karaoke session!

While visiting Berdoll, we stopped at the 14 foot squirrel and snapped a photo. It was a lot of fun and the now the kids can tell people they have seen a 14 foot squirrel!

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Friendly little fellow!

Once we finished with our pecan trip, the kids suggested we keep driving to Austin in order to see the Texas State Capitol. The husband and I thought it was a great idea. I more so because it is on my Life List!

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It was a great trip and the kids go to experience Texas history. Homeschoolers never stop learning!

Here are a few pics inside the Capitol.

We had a great time and finished it off with some great Texas BBQ! I consider this trip a success and can update the Life List Page!