Posted in 2017, HomeSchool Summer, Motherhood

Vacation was had!

We’re not going to talk about what I’ve eaten, when I’ve slept or got up, or any of that over the last 4 days. Why? Because I was on VACATION!

So, here’s the quick and dirty version of our trip and I’ll be back to add pictures once I recover enough to get them off the camera!

On Thursday, we traveled to Titusville, FL, just North of Cocoa Beach for our, now annual, summer trip. Our goal was to play on the Space Coast all weekend! AND BOY DID WE! We arrived just after dinner time Thursday night and set up our campsite pretty quickly. We’ve done it enough, now, that it’s pretty routine and easy. We camped at the Manatee Hammock campsite, which is a Brevard County run facility. The staff is very friendly, and very helpful, even though the site is a bit… low end? There’s a pool, and the showers/restrooms were clean, even if they were VERY warm. It’s just off Highway 1, so there’s constant road noise, but it’s very shady and very well kept. Cocoa Beach is about 20 minutes away, and Kennedy Space Center is about the same distance, so it’s not a bad place to camp for a few nights. The worst thing about the site was the amount of mosquitos and no-see-ums that bit me every time I stepped outside. We set up a pop up with mosquito netting and it did little to no good keeping the bugs out. Since I enjoy sitting outside and letting the girls ride their bikes and play while we’re camping, it was a bit of a disappointment that all of our down time was spent inside our conversion trailer.

Friday morning, we overslept a bit, but still made it out to Kennedy Space Center by 10:30. If you’ve never been, you seriously need to go. I walked under the Saturn 5 rocket, gawking at the sheet size of the thing every step, sat through what mission control was like during the Apollo 11 launch, and enjoyed a very cool bus tour of the launch pads, then came back and introduced myself to the Space Shuttle Atlantis in one of the best presentations I’ve ever sat through. The annoying thing is that they make you watch a video before you see most of the displays (the Saturn 5, the Atlantis, even the Hall of Fame), and part of that were cool (minus all the standing to watch them, anyway). The Atlantis was my favorite, though, and even though I dreaded going through a 2 part video presentation, seeing that beautiful girl through the screen and hearing a voice introducing us to the Space Shuttle Atlantis was worth every second of it. The Shuttles represent my childhood, you see, and the astronauts that flew in them fed my dreams of being an astronaut, too. I watched the Challenger explosion sitting in the hallway with the entire school of  Belle Chase Elementary School, I stopped what I was doing every time that shuttle lifted off from pad 39b and watched until they were out of range of the cameras, and I watched their reentry, too, crying like a baby when the Columbia never made it back. So being that close to the Atlantis with her arm out and her shuttle bay open… it was everything I’d wanted to see since I was in second grade, watching Christa McAuliffe give her life for the privilege of being the first teacher in space.  Am I a geek about this? Yes, yes I am. We found some great pizza for dinner after we left NASA at Mamma Rosa’s Pizzeria Restaurant which serves some GINORMOUS awesomeness, and came back to the campsite to crash. My Fitbit showed 12,543 steps for that trip and my feet owned every single one of them!

On Saturday, we ventured into Cocoa Beach, to hit a few spots, after starting our day in the pool at the campsite. We started our day at the Dinosaur Store because Peanut is really into Dinosaurs. This turned out to be even more than I had expected, as they have a very well laid out museum upstairs with real fossils scattered in among castings of fossils on display in life size awesomeness. Quite a few of those critters wouldn’t fit in a single shot on Peanut’s camera, so she killed the battery making sure she got every inch of them! Then, we splurged and bought her a real fossil of her own, a 75 million year old Raptor tooth! I even found real amber to make SCA bling with, so WIN-WIN! After this, we drove over towards Ron Jon’s Surf shop and parked in the public access lot at the Four Seasons. It’s free to park there, only two blocks from the beach, and right across the street from Ron Jon’s, so I highly recommend it if anyone needs a good parking spot when they visit! We ate at the Shark Pit Grill there at the Four Seasons, and sat at the bar next to this amazing tank with sharks, eel, and a whole bunch of other salt water fish (WE FOUND DORI!). The crab cakes are amazing, Tadpole inhaled her cheeseburger, and I don’t even remember what my husband got, but there wasn’t much left by the time he was finished, so obviously, it was good, too! Afterwards, we crossed the side street and entered Ron Jon’s Surf Shop which hasn’t changed much since we went in 1998! We loaded up on touristy goodness with T-shirts, stickers for my car, and toys for the girls. There was even a live band playing while we were there! We scoped out the beach accesses along A1A and chose our beach spot for Sunday before we returned to the campsite with enough time to get in the pool, which was very warm because it had been sitting in the sun all day.

On Sunday, we made a few stops for food and other things on our way out to one of the beaches near Patrick Air Force Base. There’s no restroom, no food, just beach down there, so there’s not a lot of tourists and the beach isn’t crowded. However, there’s sand that had been trucked in, I’m guessing, then from the tide line out is all broken shell bits. It’s not hard to walk on, but it’s really uncomfortable to sit on and if you thought sand in your bathing suit was annoying, try SHELL BITS! About ten feet into the water, are full shells that have been deposited there by waves. Getting knocked down by a wave there is VERY uncomfortable! Tadpole and Peanut didn’t care, though, and, honestly, once I got used to it, it was alright. The waves hit you with small bits of shell, too, so it’s literally everywhere. Tadpole and I sat at the edge and let the waves hit us from there, playing with the shell bits that you couldn’t make sand castles out of (just ask Peanut!) and taunting the Atlantic Ocean with things like, “You can’t find our feet!” which she promptly proved she could do by using waves to wash away the shell bits we’d buried our feet in. Tadpole, more than once, started hauling out a line from Moana, “Fish pee in you! ALL DAY!” Once we’d had our fill of the beach, we came back to the campsite, where the girls begged to get back in the pool. We rinsed the shells off of us and then got in the pool, where we stayed for another hour or so, giving my husband time to take a nap in the trailer. I will say that I hosed myself down in SPF 70, hosed the girls down, too, and I have come back with a sunburn that is deep into the muscles of my legs. I hurts to bend my knees and not just because the skin is burnt. Ah well, such is the price we pay for being a blue eyed blonde on a beach and in a pool while the sun was up. Ibuprofen has helped take some of the pain away and I’m keeping the skin hydrated, too.

This morning, Monday, we got up, packed up our site in a little over an hour (practice has made us pretty efficient at that, too) and got back on the road at 10:30. Our plans for stopping in St. Augustine were sacrificed on the altar of both my sunburn and my husband’s, whose chest resembles a lobster almost as deeply as my legs. Neither of us slept all that well because of it, so we were both tired and ready to crash. We stopped for gas and lunch, and made it home by 3:30, where we promptly crashed on the couch. I have so far managed not to fall asleep, but I can tell you… that’s not going to last much longer!

So, aside from pictures, that’s the story of our summer vacation! We’ll get back to our regularly scheduled stuff tomorrow!

 

Until next time!

~Tiff

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Posted in CRAFT Time, Growth Mindset, HomeSchool Summer, Motherhood, Optimum Health, Tired of being Tired

Journal- 6.27.17

Bedtime Last night: 12 AM                                 Estimated Actual time of sleep: 2 AM

Wake up: 7 AM                                                       Got up: 7:30 AM

MOM Time: Today was library day, so we changed it up a bit and went to the Oglethorpe Mall library for books. The girls finished their first ring of rewards from the library (the B&N Book form that we already had…), I checked out books on Words Their Way to work on for next school year, then we went to the soft play at Oglethorpe Mall for an hour.

CRAFT time:

C- Knitting- basket weave, 8 rows/ Gardening/Harvested Lemongrass, chopped it up and froze it in olive oil.

R- Currently reading: Seize the Dawn by Heather Graham, read for 1.5 hours and I’m not done, yet

A- Gardening- thinned out the lemongrass, ripped out the lantana, ripped up the spiderwort, removed empty pots

F- MOVE- Keep moving, don’t sit down for longer than 30 minutes until the girls go to bed.

T- Blog entries

 

DIET:

Breakfast- protein cookies

Lunch- oops

Dinner- Meatloaf grillers, baked asparagus, home made cornbread with rosemary from the garden, and 1 spoon full of Taco seasoned rice.

Bedtime snack- hmm… maybe cheese?

**Need to prep for this better so I don’t skip a meal

 

LIQUID INTAKE:

36 ounces of G2 during gardening

24 ounces of Sweet Tea with dinner

**Need to get water back in the fridge- refill every day

 

Tomorrow’s plan of attack:

Field Trip day with the girls- Railroad and Children’s Museum- go early to beat the heat

Start cleaning routine and get back to your checklist.

Find the charger for your FitBit and get it charged to track heart rate, sleep, and steps.

TAKE A WALK and Meditate after dinner.

Call the dr and set up an appointment for meds, and other medical issues.

 

Image result for growth mindset quotes
image borrowed from this source

 

 

Posted in HomeSchool Summer, Motherhood

How to get through a week at home during the summer…

I need the reminder, apparently, so I’m reminding myself that I have a system and I need to stick to it!

My first piece of advice is to CREATE A PLAN AND STICK TO IT! You can see I’m not so great at that, but I’m working on it.

My plan, for example, is to give all of us something to do and something to look forward to every day. We have responsibilities and I want to enforce those. I want them so ingrained by the time school starts that it’s just a DUH moment after school on the first Tuesday of the school year. This means that we have chores to do, and a set collection of tasks to get finished by the end of the day. I set up a checklist for each kid (and myself) that is tailored to their age and needs (one takes meds every day, for example, so it’s on her checklist). There is an AM checklist and a PM checklist. It includes home-school options, chores, taking care of animals, Yoga time, journal writing, Mindful habits, eating and cleaning up after themselves… it’s one of my more nerdy things, honestly. I printed it on bright paper and used my Scotch laminator to laminate it and put it in their Rise and Shine Notebooks (I’ll write a whole journal entry on that one, because I could go ON and ON about this thing!).  They must get everything on their list finished!

Another thing I instituted was a Popsicle stick chore system. Each day, one of the things on their check list is “Room of the Day.” I found this awesome post through Pinterest,  where this mom wrote out chores on colored popsicle sticks and the kids grab one, do the thing, and add it to their reward chart. Now, I should warn you that I took this idea and cranked it up to 11.  I bought plastic jars with lids and colored craft sticks on Amazon, color coordinated the chores by kid or by room (Peanut has blue sticks, Tadpole has Purple, the Kitchen is yellow, the Yard and Hallway is green… I’m not joking). Then I organized the sticks by room in the jars so that all the kitchen sticks are in one jar, the den is in another, etc. Then I have a jar for “Completed tasks,” where we put the sticks that are finished. Now, this isn’t just for the kids, it’s for all of us. Not all of the sticks have to be done, but the more you do, the bigger the reward. Each stick is worth a point and we sit down when we sketch out our weekly plans and create a weekly reward system. Some things stay the same each week, but the others are flexible. The rewards are in increments of 5 (we don’t round up, either) and they increase in cost/time/effort as the numbers grow. Just like every fundraising event in history, you get all of the rewards under the one you earned, too. So if you have 20 popsicle sticks, you get the rewards for 20, 15, 10, and 5! Even more, you can spend the reward as soon as you earn it! One of the best ones is BURRITO NIGHT (even the guinea pigs love burrito night, people!) and it usually falls on 10 or 15 points, depending on what else is on the list that week. If they clear the popsicle sticks to earn burrito night, we have burrito night whatever night they want (which is usually THAT NIGHT). They don’t have to wait and I don’t have to try to do everything on Saturday when they “Cash it in.” I’ve also found that letting them use their points during the week increases their drive to earn more.

Here’s what my week looks like:

Monday- Groceries and indoor play ground at the mall. 

Cleaning Day- Kitchen

We need groceries and this year, my girls have realized that they have choices about what they eat. I let them grab a basket and go get their breakfast and lunches for the week and bring them back to me. Totally their decision, totally in their hands. The youngest one is still sticking to the standards (cereal, pop tarts, and lunchables), but the oldest one is starting to explore options. She’s created a Veggie-burrito that she’s rather fond of (tortillas, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and shredded cheese). She puts it together herself, she’s in charge of cleaning up afterwards (we’re still working on this part, btw) and she eats every bite. I’m good with that. My next point is going to be to give them a budget and they have to stay within it. They groan when I start looking for coupons, but I’m betting that will change, soon. 😉

Afterwards (NOT BEFORE. They’ll complain and be slow if you do this first!), we go to the indoor play ground at the mall for an entire hour. You heard me right, a WHOLE HOUR. They run, they play, they get all their wiggles out and BOOM! I get to knit, or crochet, or embroider! They ignore me and I keep an eye on them out of the corner of my eye. WIN-WIN! Today, we’ll also go get supplies for our Thursday activity, but that’s because there’s a craft store in the mall we go play in. That makes it WIN-WIN-WIN!

Tuesday- Library and playground day

Cleaning Day- Den

Again with choices! I take them to a library (we have a few different ones around here, so it’s not a stale collection of books) and they pick 2 books to read. Our local libraries also do a summer reading incentive where the kids earn prizes for reading, so we’re working towards earning those. Barnes and Noble offers a free book for their incentive programs, too, so yes, we do as many of those as we can! See how many you can find in your area and watch your kids grab books! We also have a field trip that we plan (on Wednesday), so we find books we can research with while we’re at the library. So far, we’ve researched Vikings and Atlantic Ocean Fish. We’re going to the Railroad Museum this week, so guess what’s on the list?

Depending on the weather, we may hit an outdoor playground today, or I’ll let them decide to go to one of the two soft-play playgrounds at the nearby malls. Again, they run around for an hour, play with kids and have fun and I knit, crochet, or embroider!

WEDNESDAY- FIELD TRIP DAY!

Cleaning Day- Bathrooms

This is NOT FUN DAY! That doesn’t mean it’s not fun, but it does mean that the goal is learning something. We happen to live in a city with a lot of history and science, given that we’re in the 13th British Colony and right here on the Atlantic Ocean. As such, we have a lot of really cool field trip options that don’t cost a lot of money and don’t require us to be in the car for long distances. Today, I found a list of the Top 10 Things to Do with Kids in Savannah, GA, and printed it out. We’ve already done two of them and they’re not really interested in another one, so we’re down to seven things to do before school starts! They’re excited! I printed each place on a different sheet of paper, lay them all out and the girls decide what our field trip is going to be this week! They’re in complete (sort of) control of the direction we go! This usually takes a while and they get lots of exercise doing it, so there’s no extra trip today. Awesome, right?

Thursday- CRAFT DAY

Cleaning Day- Dining Room

I’m a crafty person, by nature, just in case the multiple references to knitting, crochet, and embroidery didn’t catch your attention before now. Kids love doing stuff, too! Mine aren’t really into long projects, though, so we have to keep them short and sweet. Pinterest is my friend here (it usually is my friend, but that’s a different post!) and we scroll through DIY with Kids projects (that’s what I search for, btw) until we find something that screams US! This week, they decided they want to paint rocks for the garden. One wants to paint ladybugs, the other wants to do geometric shapes. While we’re at the mall on Monday, I plan on going to the craft store in that mall and getting the flat river rocks for the girls to paint on Thursday. I already have the acryllic paints, so no worries, there. I even have spray on sealant, so we can spray them and let them air out outside, then put them in the garden! Their fairy garden needs some love, anyway!

Friday- FUN DAY!

Cleaning Day- Bedrooms

This is the day they’ve been waiting for all week. The goal today is FUN! We have lots of options around here, from movies to jumping places, Chuck E Cheese to Mini-Golf, and my youngest has recently found the glory of… BOWLING. So, we sit down and plan where we’re going for Fun Day EARLY in the week, so they’ve got that to look forward to all week long.

 

 

Yes, this is a lot of things all going on at once. However, between their Rise and Shine notebooks, the popsicle sticks, and my weekly plan, we get through the week and manage not to have a house that looks like everyone is on vacation all the time!

Posted in HomeSchool Summer, Motherhood

Wow, so… it’s been three months…

…and a lot has gone incredibly off track since then. School has ended. It’s been one of the most difficult years I’ve ever had as a teacher. That’s saying something considering my first class was a “trial by fire” with some of the biggest behavior problems in the school in that class. I miss those guys. I felt like craziness, at the time, but I look back on that year and think about how well we meshed and how much support I had. I haven’t had it since. Part of that may be moving to Savannah from rural North Georgia, but even if I don’t count that first year (Lord knows the state of GA doesn’t!), the culture of the classroom has changed so much in the last 14 years…

*waves her hand* I’m not going to babble about that. It’s summer break. Time to let it go and move on! Me and my fidget spinner are embarking on a new world!

You see, both of my girls need academic help this summer. Tadpole doesn’t know even 50 sight words. Peanut has trouble with comprehension on things she’s not interested in reading. Tadpole needs to learn addition facts, Peanut needs to learn multiplication facts. Both have been promoted, both are going to need A TON of help unless I can turn this around for them this summer.

Translation, I’m trading a traditional classroom for a homeschool classroom for a few months.

While this sounds easy, I know it’s not going to be. Sure, I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Even more, I have 3 additional certifications! One in Reading, one in Science, and one in Gifted Education. I have a certification for Brain-Based Teaching and I have been trained on all the latest technology and… I can’t get these two to keep their rooms clean! *rubs her temples*

So, I’ve spent the last few weeks establishing my attack strategies. Starting tomorrow, we will be on a home school schedule every day. It will begin at 8 AM, when the girls grab their Rise and Shine Binders and begin their morning work. Breakfast will be eaten before this (or during this) and it is VERY INVOLVED in the morning work department. I’ve already differentiated (ugh, that word during the summer!!!) their Morning Math, Vocabulary, and Reading assignments. I’ve added a reading goal using the Tower of Books Challenge (20 books in 8 weeks isn’t bad!). I’ve added comprehension strategies using a single text and a more difficult reading passage by incorporating Trifold Read-Its but focusing on an easy phonics concept. I’ve added more difficult reading strategies and questions for Peanut, and I’m focusing on basic story elements with Tadpole. I have journals for them to write in, complete with a new digital camera for each of them (it was cheap, don’t start thinking I’ve hit the lottery) that will have journal entries written about each picture taken, as well as handwriting practice! I will have them online at alternating times, giving me one-on-one time with each kid to make sure they’re understanding what I’m throwing at them. Peanut will be on Moby Max Learning, Prodigy, XtraMath, or Sumdog; Tadpole on ABCMouse, ABCya, XtraMath, and RazKids.

I’m looking for field trips, from the super organized stuff like the local Forts to the beach and Chuck E Cheese. I’ve built in recess time, read aloud time, library time, independent reading time… I’ve written lesson plans.

 

*sighs*

 

And I’m praying that all of this will balance with enough fun stuff to equal a good summer AND academic growth for next year. It starts tomorrow. Yes, on Memorial Day. Guess what we’re going to be researching and visiting tomorrow??