Homeschool Life – Take It Easy When you Need To

With a title like that and with the time we’re living in, let me first say our family is healthy, but we had some sad news which has weighed on my heart.

Parents-Screen-ShotI just love writing and if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that I usually write regularly. It used to be that I would write 3-4 times a week! (That was when this blog was under the Parents umbrella. The kids were younger and I think there was a lot more variety in our day… lots of quick wins like geography projects, science experiments, crafts, a quick grammar sheet, etc.) With years of writing and this pretty much ingrained in me, I feel guilty when I take time “off.” But… sometimes it’s necessary, right?

As homeschoolers (those of us who’ve been at it for a while or those who are new to this whole thing), there are times when it is best to take it easy on yourself. You might need to take time off completely or let things slide or just get the main things done or maybe the best things is to shake things up completely and do a new unit or add in some exciting new project or experiments. Maybe you need to let the kids be in the driver’s seat and let them take control of what/how they are learning…  let them choose a topic and let them run with it. Perhaps it’s time to add in a new read aloud book/novel or watch history-based movies or documentaries. You may need to pamper yourself or let the house slide or be house-cleaning maniac or focus on other projects.  Just remember any of that is okay and that is perfectly normal! Homeschooling & education in general is a long-time journey. A day or week or a month is only one small part of the whole. It’s important not to get down on yourself (or your kids) when you need to take it easy.

Just about two weeks ago, we had some super sad family news. It really knocked me for a loop and I just turned inward. I needed some time off from writing. So first, I tell you what happened. Then I’ll share family projects that have been joyful… and then I’ll tell you the packets and posts I have in the works and what I’ll be sharing (homeschool wise and on the blog) in the coming weeks.

I have a cousin that I am particularly close to. She had several kids and moved from Seattle (where I/she was born) to New Jersey (and I lived close by in Pennsylvania). It was wonderful and I got to see her kids pretty regularly as they grew up. (I was in my teens & early 20s or so too).

I learned about ten days ago that my cousin’s oldest son took his own life. Rory was a wounded Vet (who served in Afghanistan)…

Her oldest joined the Marines right out of high school. He was sent to Afghanistan.  While he was there, he stepped on an IED. (The amazing part of that story is that he was doing that in place of someone who had newly arrived in Afghanistan and was still inexperienced.) The blast severed his right leg at the thigh. R lost his leg below the knee when an IED exploded. R and his wife had two young children (who were almost 2 yrs old and almost 3 yrs old at the time). He was transferred to Germany before returning to the US. It was dicey and he almost didn’t make it to Germany.

RoryEventually, he was brought to Walter Reed Hospital in Maryland. He had many surgeries and endured a lot. He was awarded the Purple Heart by Obama. He went on to be a well-known motivational speaker and veteran’s mental health advocate.  There have been so many touching tributes to him.  He leaves behind three kids.

Anyway, he lived in New Jersey, which as many of you know has been overrun by COVID-19 cases.  My Dad & stepmom live there and it has been a stressful place to live, for sure. (On May 1st when R took his own life there were 121,000+ cases and 7,500+ deaths in New Jersey alone.)

I feel for his entire family… and I know all of his extended family feel the devastating loss.

It made me hug my kids more. It makes me feel a whole range of emotions that are just hard to put into words… and thus, the bit of a break from blogging.

So, in the mean time, we’ve just been treasuring our time home…

As many of you know, we live nestled down in the woods and are enjoying the many gifts of spring!  My Dad is really into planting tulips in the fall… and I followed suit. This year for some reason, the deer didn’t munch down the tulips, so we had a really pretty front garden!  ED made a spring wreath for our front door back a couple of months ago… which became the home of a Mama Bird!  We’ve been enjoying watching her (from afar), but are looking forward to the day we can use our front door again!! 😊

Tulip and Birds Nest in the WreathThis past weekend was Mother’s Day… after a lovely breakfast in bed, I spent hours working on an outside project.

We had an old hard plastic pond liner that the previous owners had left behind. For many summers we used it as a frog pond and would put any frogs’ eggs that we found in the pool in there.  Sadly, a couple of summers ago it got a huge crack in the bottom and would no longer hold water.

I’ve been mulling about what to do with this ugly part of our yard… For a number of summers we had raspberries all along that wall, but they got (mostly) choked out by weeds.  It looked *bad*!!

I decided to patch that old pond liner up with duct tape. Then we purchased some plastic pond liner sheeting (black that you can’t see in any of the pics) and used some old (swimming) pool liner (blue) that was about to go to the tip… and got busy digging!

Creating a Small Backyard PondI/we worked about 8 hours on Sunday and another 6 hours or so on Monday (you can guess how very little homeschooling we got done!)

It involved carting away a ton of red clay and getting lots of quartz rocks from the woods behind our house!  We put in some HARD labor!!

Then yesterday  we got some cute goldfish and various pond plants (living and not).

It’s been a fun project! Ta Da!!

Backyard PondWhat you don’t see in the pictures above is that we got a small pump too to help with the oxygen levels. It creates a small fountain.

So that was part of the wall… but the other parts were still pretty ugly.  I wanted to beautify this area without adding in more weeding (or a lot more work), so I also bought two outdoor planters.  I have to admit, this is blatant plagiarism… I copied my Dad… who made his beautiful (basically identical) planters from scratch (rather than pre-made like the ones I bought!)!!

Anyway, those wooden planters came yesterday… and I quickly put it together (10 minutes tops!) and planted the flowers that I purchased last week.  I think it turned out really pretty!  It’s small (just 23 x 11 inches and about 3 feet high), but it’s exactly what I wanted (and like I said, won’t require more weeding!) So, this is a Mother’s Day we’ll get to enjoy for the rest of the summer!

I got these off ebay, but saw that the seller has increased the price by $15 since I bought them last week.

Flower Planter

Otherwise, life has been fairly routine for us.

As homeschoolers, we already had a regular school schedule… we’ve covered the 1950s-early 1960s Cold War Period and are just starting the Vietnam War for history (and our Lit books generally go along with our history topics).

LD decided to take two physics classes and is finishing up his project for AP Computer Science (which has to be submitted online this year… no multiple-choice questions for his AP test). And the girls are continuing with a study of physics too– we’ve covered energy, the Laws of Motion and are on waves — light and sound waves. We’re using a really wonderful DVD series of lectures for that, plus some materials I’m making.

The kids are still doing their foreign languages… all of them do German, the girls are learning Spanish (they blow me away because they can speak well now!!)… and LD has been studying Japanese on his own for quite some time now.  Oh and of course they all do math, but they’ve had their curriculum since the beginning of the year so that’s just moving along steadily.

To be honest, we’re very lucky because unlike most of the rest of the kids (who normally go to public/private school), things feel, if anything, easier going because we have more time on our hands (we don’t have to rush out for band, scouts, sports and all that).

And on the blog front… I have so much to do/share!

I have a number of general homeschool type posts in the works… just talking about some basic homeschool questions around schedules, starting the day, and things like that.  I’ll be adding in my perspective to some basic homeschool questions now that my kids are older. (I have older posts that answer this from when the kids were younger!)

So, in the next coming weeks, I have quite a number of packets. Do you remember the Nocturnal Animal Quick Study I made a year or so ago?

Nocturnal Animal Quick Study - Opossums Raccoons Skunks Beavers

I decided to make something similar for Chameleons. It’s almost done/ready to share! It includes a booklet, lapbook/interactive notebook pages, writing pages and more.  You’ll hear about it soon in the Newsletter and then a few days later on the blog. 🙂  Hint, hint… a good reason to be sure you have subscribed for our email!

Chameleons Packet

As I said above, we (the girls and I) are still doing studies on Physics… we’re on to Energy, the Laws of Motion, Waves, Light and Sound, etc.  That packet is still in the works, but here are a few highlights… These are a few of the pages I’ve added (plus if you might recall, we also had studied renewable and nonrenewable energy earlier this semester).

Energy and Force - Kinetic and Potential EnergyPhysics WorksheetsWe’ve moved on to Vietnam (for history) and I’ll have a geography packet of Southeast Asia to share with you soon… I think that’s just about ready, but have to polish it and of course make the time for creating the post!

Southeast Asia Map PacketThat’s really about it from here. I just wanted to write a general post to kind of explain why I’ve been a bit slow to write and post the past couple of weeks.  I sure hope you and your family are safe and healthy.

Take care of yourself (if even it means taking it easy, like I have!)

Happy Homeschooling!
~Liesl

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