Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Our first 100(ish) Days of Homeschooling

Never, ever, in a million years, did I think that I'd be homeschooling my child... but here I am, nearly 100 days into this adventure. Valentino attended public school for kindergarten, but we knew before the school year ended that homeschool was in our future. Why?

1. We wanted more control and say over what he's learning. We are able to choose the curriculum that best fits his abilities. We can move at his pace and spend as much (or as little) time as he needs on any given subject. We are able to avoid Common Core and other curriculum (and bias) that doesn't mesh with our beliefs.

2. Running the proverbial rat race with a child in tow wasn't working for us. These are years we will never get back. Since I'm able to work from home now, I get to spend every day with my son and be directly involved in his learning and growth, instead of spending a few hours each night with him (when we're both tired and cranky). It so nice to not have to be bound by work schedules, childcare availability, and school vacation/work/snow days. It is one less stress for us to have in our lives.

3. It's what's right for our family. I wanted to homeschool him as soon as he became "school-aged," but we couldn't make it work, so we agreed that we'd give public school a chance. Our eyes opened even wider that school year, and I couldn't shake the feeling that I should be homeschooling him. I really felt called to do this.

First Day of First Grade - September 2, 2014

So, how's it going?
~100 days in, I can honestly say I'm starting to feel that it's going well. We had a lot, A LOT, of rough days in the beginning. I had a hard time keeping a cool head. He had a hard time getting back into "school mode" after being off so long for summer and after every weekend (I dreaded Mondays!). We had personality clashes. There was screaming, crying, and me thinking that at any minute he was going to say "I don't want to be home with you anymore!" I started to doubt that we had made the right decision. But we persevered and now I feel confident in my abilities. Valentino regularly tells me how much he loves being homeschooled and having me as a teacher. I know he is absorbing what I'm teaching him, and we are learning how to co-exist as teacher and student. I've read that most homeschools start out rocky, so I know what we've been through is normal and I anticipated that this transition wouldn't be easy.

Until recently, we hadn't been involved in any co-ops, and we'd only attended 1 "meeting" (really, a scheduled meet n'play activity) with a homeschool group. I needed to get my footing and bearings with teaching, and with figuring out how to fit in working full time, teaching first grade, and keeping the house functioning. My goal was to get more involved after the first of the year, and we've been getting more active outside of the house lately. We have started attending a program 1 evening/week at our community library, and we attend a homeschool activities group on Tuesdays. This week we will also start 4-H (Junior Master Gardeners), which I'm thrilled about! I had to finally buy a planner to start keeping track of what we're doing when.

We have a few field trips coming up, which we're both looking forward to: visiting Winterpast Farms in Wake Forest and a behind-the-scenes tour of Lowe's Foods! I think one of my favorite parts of teaching my child is that not only am I learning all sorts of information I didn't know about (I don't recall ever studying Ancient Egypt!), but we also get to do a lot of fun activities together.

Working from home full-time is great and is the only way we've been able to facilitate homeschooling Valentino, and I am so very grateful to my company for working with me to make this happen. It's been working out beautifully, although I still feel incredibly strapped for time. I've been taking to reading self-improvement books lately - mostly on real estate, parenting, and personal finance - and I'm definitely going to find a good time management book to get me on a more efficient track :)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Another amazing weekend: Halloween + New BMX Bike + Hurricanes Hockey!

Another great Halloween for the books! Valentino was so excited for this day, and he was bouncing off the walls and ready to trick-or-treat from the time he woke up. But first, we had to have a full day of school - much to his dismay! Valentino thinks Halloween is a holiday worth having the day off for... can't say I disagree, but I'm a meany and we did school anyway! Long weekends can be tough to come back from, and we've had far too many of them so far this year. Thankfully he was an attentive student, and we made it through the day.

When it came time to get his costume on, Valentino couldn't move fast enough! He was so excited to be an alien:

He's kinda creepy.

Obligatory shots with the proud parents. MEOW.

Vic and I went back and forth over what to do about the candy-passing-out situation. I walked with Valentino most of the time last year, while Vic stayed back and passed out candy. He joined us about half-way through the night, by leaving the bowl on the porch (which we heard ended quickly once teenagers dumped the whole bowl and took off). This year, I volunteered to stay back because I was bound and determined not to let some punks steal all the sweets from the kids. That didn't last long... our group (Valentino, Vic, and Vale's best buds and their parents) was taking off and I didn't want to be left alone, so I grabbed the candy bowl and became a mobile candy passer-outer:

I win because I did my duty AND enjoyed watching my son trick-or-treat/hung out with the group. Score!

Valentino made out like a bandit - see that orange bowl in the picture above - Friday night it was full, to the top, with candy. And not a bunch of necco wafers and bit-o-honeys... it had all the good stuff. We indulged in candy, then had cider and donuts with my brother in law and nephew (new family tradition for us? Vic's family always had cider & donuts on Halloween night). Valentino finally passed out around 11 and didn't get up until after 8 am on Saturday (which never happens!).

Best Halloween yet!

Saturday, Vic happened to see a Facebook post about a barely-used junior-sized complete BMX bike for sale. We have been searching for a bike for Vale since he started to really show an interest in riding at the track in the past month. The stars aligned, and we were able to go pick it up Saturday afternoon. Both of my boys were beaming with pride as he took his inaugural cranks on his new ride:

Saturday night, Vic and Vale were treated to a Hurricane's game together - I won a drawing at work a few weeks ago, and since Vale and I went together this past spring, it was Vic's turn to take him (and momma's turn to have a quiet evening alone!). Vale got a Jeff Skinner jersey from my dad for his birthday, so he was stoked to wear it to the game:

My little CANIAC
To make the night even more special, the Hurricanes won their first game!! They have been stinkin' something awful so far this season, but they shut out the Coyotes to take their first win... then followed it up Sunday night with a win against defending Stanley Cup champs, the LA Kings. Valentino loves the 'Canes no matter what, but he was so proud of their wins :)

Another non-stop weekend, but I wouldn't have it any other way. So many smiles and laughs and quality time together.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

As cliche as it sounds, I cannot believe today is already the last day of October! The past two months have seriously flown by in the blink of an eye. My inbox is already filling up with sales for Christmas, and Valentino was singing "Jingle Bell Rock" this morning... slow down 2014! I am not at all ready for Christmas nor winter.  Nor turning 31. Why does 31 sound way older than 30??

Valentino is seriously excited to get out there tonight and fill his pumpkin to the top with everything sugary. He is going as an alien - he looks super cool (and kind of retro!) in his robe and mask.

We carved our pumpkins Wednesday night, which was a lot of fun. Valentino is finally old enough to do most of the process by himself, and he was very determined to do it without our help.

I was impressed at how hard he worked and how good his pumpkin looked afterwards:

Pumpkin carving is definitely turning out to be a fun family tradition that I hope our kids will remember, just like Vic and I do.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Guess who's back?

I’m not sure what it is, but I have had this major urge and desire to BLOG lately. I kind of deserted this little blog last year when things (mostly my job) started to get uncontrollably busy, which in turn made me not want to spend even more time at my computer typing up blog posts.  Things have changed – my job title, my mental state, my free time, my body, and my family – and we’re in a new season of life. For whatever reason, I just feel the need to type it out, even if it’s only for me to look back on someday and read.

I don’t know if I’ll be regularly posting, but I’m going to try to create a few posts each week. We had a very, very full summer and so far, fall has been more of the same. Lots of time spent together and many family memories made.

In West Virginia, on one of our many adventures this summer.

Until next time… hopefully sooner than later J

Friday, June 7, 2013

June Goals - The return of my {not-so-successful} goal-setting

In the past, my goals have probably been a bit too "big" {I put that in quotes because it is so relative...} for my current state of being. In other words, I was setting myself up for disappointment and failure.

So I'm starting small. So, so small. If for no other reason, to feel a teensy bit accomplished ;-)

So here we go - June's goals {a week late!}:

1. Keep up with the Summer Shape-up and lose weight! Enough said on that one. So far, so good!

2. Hang at least 1 thing on our walls. We've been there almost four months... and haven't hung a single thing... unless you count bike racks in the garage ;)

3. Create our Summer Fun list! Last year we made one and we did pretty well - definitely need to get this done ASAP!

Ok, now I'm pumped up to get all of this done this weekend... watch me GO!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What's Working for ME

I've made a real committment to eating better and sticking to a fitness routine as of late, and it's been paying off - to the tune of 6lbs lost! I'm nearly to the weight I was at the start of last summer, which I'll take. This year started off so rough with me in the body {okay, and mind} department, and this shift in thinking, eating, and exercising has been GREAT for me mentally and thankfully now physically as well.

I'm committed to losing 30lbs by the big 3-0 this December, so I'm on my way! Six down, 24 to go :)

A few things that are working for me:

1. The return of the 5:30am alarm. People are always *shocked* that I get up at 5:30 to exercise, and it makes me laugh. What other time of day would you like me to fit it in? I'm either working, cooking, cleaning, or spending time with my husband and child. Exercising before work {and before any of those demands get to me} ensures that I get 'er dun and have the rest of my day to take care of everything and everybody else. And frankly, I'm just too tired to put any big effort in at the end of the day. Plus, you get used to getting up early {and then you end up freaking out on Saturday morning when you think your alarm didn't go off, until you realize it's Saturday and you don't have to get up that early!}.

2. Meal prep and go-to meals. A no-brainer, really. Meal planning and prep is so beneficial in so many ways, but I've always had a hard time getting on board with it. Mostly because I was trying to change it up to often. Lately I've been sticking to salads for lunch {see next item on the list}, then a simple protein {usually grilled BBQ chicken} with a carb {rice or baked potato} and salad for dinner. I cut and wash lettuce a few times each week - thanks to the OXO salad spinner hubby got me for Mother's Day! - along with veggies to add to the salads. I'll also slice up some fruit to enjoy throughout the week {a la fruit salad... fruit - fruit salaaaad...} and marinade some chicken. For lunch I'll pack a salad with either grilled chicken or some lunchmeat, then have a cup of yogurt and a piece of fruit. Easy peasy. Dinner is quick and easy on the grill. Voila.

Big serving bowl o' fruit, which lasts us the week

3. SALAD, gone gourmet. Way back when I did the South Beach diet, I spent the first 2 weeks choking down plain salad. It was so hard to eat and I never felt satisfied. I loved {and still love} restaurant-prepared salads, so I knew I could like eating salad as a meal, but I had such a hard time eating salad at home. As of late, the lightbulb went off and I thought "I'll just recreate restaurant salads at home!" Dur. So that's what I do. I make my salad like those I have at a restaurant. Lately, it's been a cobb salad - lots of romaine, broccoli, cucumber, red pepper, hard boiled egg, sprinkling of cheddar cheese, 1 slice crumbled bacon, grilled chicken and lite honey mustard dressing. Delicious and satisfying, with lots of veggies and protein!

Mmm salad.

4. Having a PIC named VIC. Vic was shaping up and dropping pounds for a 24-hour endurance race over Memorial Day weekend {24 hours of BURN}, so he was committed to cutting out the junk and getting off our butts. That made it so much easier for me to stick to my routine and good eating. It's always good to have someone to hold you accountable; it's even better when you live with that person {and they see you nakey!}.

5. Summer! It's FINALLY here {2 months late!}. The rain has ended, at least for now. Nothing better to remind you that you will need to eventually wear shorts and tanks. Better shape up those legs and arms! Not to mention the sweating... oy. You know summer is in effect in NC when you stand there doing nothing and sweat profusely. I'll take it any day over winter, though - no complaints here!

This week I started the Fitnessista's Summer Shape-Up, and it's been going well so far! She provides a workout plan along with instructions and pictures to help you out. I love her blog!

So that's what I've been doing lately. Habits I hope to keep up to keep myself and my family on track.

Have you made any changes lately that are working for you and your family?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Fresh Kitchen!

We've been here three months now, and we love our new place.

The house is great and suits us perfectly - three bedrooms, open floorplan, two-car garage! But it was built in 1998, so it definitely needs a little cosmetic updating {I'm looking at you... BRASS FIXTURES!}. The kitchen has been updated with granite countertops, stainless appliances and laminate flooring {which I hope to replace with hardwoods someday}, but the walls were still the original paint from 1998! Really flat, grimy, dinged-up plain white paint.

{Excuse the mess - I snapped these right before I started prepping... also notice the aqua patch - we didn't love it, especially once I realized that half of my office is that color}

Vertical blinds - yuck.

We like to refer to those as our "Mexican Restaurant Arches" - not our favorite, but I guess they add some interest

I LOVE having an island! So much room for food prep.
So much better {and neater}!

We have barstools now {$10 garage sale find!}

Walls = Glidden Duo in Dusty Miller

Gratuitous Valentino shot - prior to painting :-)
One room down... several more to go. I just finished painting Valentino's room BLUE today. So, so BLUE.

More house shots to come...