Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year in Review - Part 2


August was by far the biggest month of the year for our family.

On August 1st, we loaded up in the van and left North Carolina.

We drove through Virginia to Tennessee, and visited Jeff's parents.

And then headed through Kentucky and Ohio, stopping in Indiana to visit my sister and nephews.

We drove through Illinois, dealt with Chicago traffic, and stopped at the border of Wisconsin to visit my parents. While there, I was able to enjoy some very old family photos.

Attend my 20th High School Class Reunion, and see both of my Aunts & Uncles.

Then we drove on to roads that our family has never been on. The real adventure began. We saw the Mississippi River

A Spam Museum, Jolly Green Giant, strange sculptures along the Interstate, and even a Corn Museum.

We headed through South Dakota and saw Mount Rushmore and did a detour through the AMAZING Badlands.

We headed through Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington State.

And then we headed north to Canada!

Going through Canada, we saw amazing views...

...tons of wildlife...

and even more views... more wildlife, and a signpost forest.

We dealt with treacherous roads and lots of rain, before finally arriving in the state of the Last Frontier!

And the end of the Alaskan Highway!

It was a 5,000 mile trip of a lifetime!


In September, we did a little sight-seeing, hiking, fishing, and even panning for gold.

We saw the Aurora Borealis for the first time.

And saw ice on the river, on only the 6th Day of Autumn.


In October, we had another great view of the Northern Lights.

We had a moose run through our back yard.

And saw winter begin.


November brought with it beautiful winter scenery, and a couple field trips. One to a local museum.

And another for some fresh air and fun!

The menfolk did some hunting...

and Jen and I did some sight-seeing around Fairbanks...and North Pole.

This part of Alaska saw some severe weather the week of Thanks Giving, and had to close school for the first time in 37 years....because it RAINED.

And I hosted the 256th week of the Carnival of Homeschooling.


And finally, December.

My baby girl turned 18 years old.

We had a unit Christmas party, complete with dog sled rides.

The boys dug out a snow tunnel.

And we enjoyed a wonderful Christmas in Ice, in the North Pole of Alaska.

It has been an amazing year. We saw things we had never seen before, took the longest road trip imaginable, with 5 people, 2 dogs and a cat in a mini-van, saw breath-taking sights, and began an adventure in the beautiful land of Alaska.

What might 2011 have in store?

What was your favorite memory of 2010?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Year in Review - Part 1

The year of 2010 was a very exciting year for our family. I'm going to go through and do a month-by-month replay......


We went on some local field trips to some beautiful places...

We visited a 1700's church out in the country.

Rhodes Pond

And an historical cemetery

We also received word that we would be PCSing for the first time in 12 years. Doing a military move to a dream location.....ALASKA!


In February, we enjoyed not one, but two North Carolina snow storms! We decided God was getting us ready for our new home.

And we took another spur-of-the-moment field trip, to shoo away the hum-drums.


In March, we finished up our school year, and I worked on a very special project.


On April first, I played a very mean and wonderful trick on my children for April Fool's Day.

Daddy came home from Afghanistan.

and I found my 1000th Geocache while on a trip to Tennessee.

Jennifer & Joshua went to the prom.


In May Jennifer's choir performed their Spring Concert.

The boys finished their last season of the Homeschool Football League with a brutal Father-Son Game.

And Jeff and I went to our first Military Ball
in 19 years of army life.


In June we went and picked up our camper. This was going to be our home as we traveled across the country later in the year.

And we enjoyed many things produced by our garden.


We took Daddy to Raven Rock park (which had been another spur-of-the-moment field trip back in March.)

I ripped apart my beautiful garden.

We watched everything we owned get packed up into crates and hauled away.

And finally, we began the painful process of saying goodbye to all of our loved ones in North Carolina.

Another chapter in our lives was about to begin...

The Year in Review....Part 2.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Mid-School Year Break

As do most families, we take a break in the middle of the school year. Whether it is a Winter Break, Christmas Vacation, Holiday Break...whatever you call it - this break is very convenient. It gives me a chance to go through my Homeschool Planner, and look over where we are in our lessons. I can see how many lessons we have left in each subject, change my "projected" dates of completion for each subject, and spend time beginning preparations for the next school I mentioned in This Post.

Then I look at my list of items that I will need for curriculum the next school year, and begin finalizing plans for specific subjects.

I also go through all of the school work that the kiddos have done so far. I look at their notebooks - are they falling apart? Are they almost full? We often start the second half of the year with new notebooks for their work.

Sadly, in the house we are currently living, we don't have a room to use as a classroom. I am used to having a room set aside with a classroom table, and all the bookshelves right there with all the books, our school supplies, whiteboards, etc all right at our fingertips. Like this one...

Or this one...

But in this house, the school table is the kitchen table. The whiteboard hangs on the kitchen wall, bookcases are in the living room, and supplies are assigned to a "school closet." It is a shelved closet just off our kitchen, kind of like a second pantry.

I keep the school closet organized with these handy-dandy pencil boxes that you can get at the stores the beginning of the school year for about 50 cents.

Some of these pencil boxes, I have had for years - but they make things so convenient. I prefer ones that are sort of see-through, and I write what the contents are, on the end of the box. It only takes a second to find the pens & pencils, or the science slides.

So I go through the "school closet" and look at all of those supplies. Do we need more pencils? Erasers? Pens? Science supplies?

Needless to say, I take this mid year break to get our second wind, get re-organized, and begin the new calendar year, and second half of the school year refreshed and ready to go!

If you homeschool, do you have special things you do this time of year?

Homeschool Planning - What Works for Me

I love to get an early start on planning for the next school year. Some people think I'm crazy, some think I'm waaaay too organized.

But selfishly, when my kiddos are on their "summer vacation," Mom wants to be on summer vacation too! ...Especially up here in Alaska where the summer is way too short to be spent indoors!

So at the beginning of the school year, I start penciling in a list of materials I may want to use the NEXT year. I keep it on a sheet of paper in my Homeschooling Planner. I make notations of prices and where to order them as well. If I see a used copy on sale somewhere, I'll know right off it is a deal to be scooped up too.

About my Homeschool Planner...

The name of our homeschool is "Elucere Academy." It used to be "Shining Light Academy" but I thought that sounded too elementary school-like. With my kids getting older, and one graduating shortly, I thought it needed a change. And so Shining Light became Elucere. Which is actually Latin for "a light that shines forth; to stand out." Very fitting.

I keep all of my important homeschool things in here, like HSDLA information, and print materials....

When we lived in NC, I kept state-required information, like Attendance Records, Standardized test results, and our irreplaceable "peach card" that the state of North Carolina sends us, confirming our registration.

Now that we live in Alaska, those kinds of records aren't necessary, (Unless you are part of one of the state-run "homeschool" programs....which I am not....that's a whole other subject) but I still have all of my old records in here. I also have a tentative calendar with the projected days of school and breaks, with the estimated dates that each subject will be completed. This is not set in stone, but is only an estimate.

And January rolls around, I have taken my prospective curriculum list from pencilled, to inked. And the end of January, or beginning of February, I start ordering the curriculum.

As it comes in, I break it down into individual lessons, and then determine the number of lessons needed per week to complete it in the the set days of school the next year. I put all of these lesson plans on paper, and keep them in my binder, organized with the little tabs on the side.

I don't break the lessons into weekly plans, until the week prior. Instead each subject is broken down into a list of lessons.

At the beginning of the week I take whatever lessons are next, and put them onto a weekly schedule. I only do this each week, in case more time needs to be spent on a particular subject or sometimes things come up, like spur-of-the-moment field trips, or army life Daddy coming home from Afghanistan. Now that we are in Alaska...the weather might suddenly be nice one day, and we could take advantage of it and get out of the house for the day. So we keep our flexibility in our schedule. But it all gets done, and nothing is missed.

This is our system, and it works for us.

That's the great thing about homeschooling...the flexibility given to each family, to figure out what works for them.

By the way....if you aren't familiar with it and you are a homeschooling family with a blog (or just want to see more about homeschooling), the Carnival of Homeschooling is taking submissions for the next Carnival. Click the image below to find out more!

Carnival of Homeschooling

You can see this week's carnival, hosted by Janice Campbell - who just so happens to be talking about planning as well!