Sunday, January 17, 2016

Weekly Wrap-Up {Disney!}

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This will be a very short Weekly Wrap-Up because we are currently on our way back from an eight day trip to Florida!!!

The trip, which has been in the works for more than a year, was a gift from my dad to our family and my sister. Growing up, my sister and I were blessed with many wonderful family vacations. My parents weren’t big spenders, but travel was always a priority. We mostly visited National Parks and any place with a mountain, but we also made a visit to Disney World way back when Epcot was being built. Fast forward a generation, my kids love every single Disney movie and have always wanted to go to Disney World. My dad wanted to give the kids that opportunity, even though he wouldn’t be able to travel with us. Of course, we had hoped we’d be able to show him pictures and tell him of our adventures, but when he passed away last August we knew that the trip would instead be in celebration of his life.

And what a celebration we’ve had this past week! We were at Disney for 5 days and Universal for 3 days (just 2 at the park, 1 at the hotel pool). One of my biggest hesitations about the trip was that I knew I didn’t have the time to plan such an adventure, but my sister — a certified project manager — said she would plan the entire trip. She mapped out every detail on a spreadsheet and we didn’t miss a thing we wanted to see at either location. We met princesses and characters (yes, even teenagers like that sort of thing!), rode thrilling rides, and ate EVERYTHING! My sister and I relived childhood memories like flying through Space Mountain and spinning in teacups. The kids made lots of new memories. Anna even spent an evening auditioning to be a Disney princess and almost made it through to the final cut (more on that later)! The weather did prove to be a challenge at times (cold and sometimes wet), but overall it was an amazing trip. We are so thankful! Thankful for my dad’s love for travel and adventure that he passed down. Thankful for the many hours of planning my sister invested. Thankful for the many ways God blessed us on this trip.

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Of course, I took a million photos, so hopefully I will find time to share some of those later this week. : )

It will be hard leaving the magical life behind, but hopefully the happy memories will keep us smiling as we rest our sore feet and settle back into reality (and the low single digit temperatures waiting for us back home!).

Have a wonderful week and happy homeschooling!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Weekly Wrap-Up {9 Years!}

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1/4/16 - Playing around with my camera, trying to get some Christmas bokeh. Yes, my tree is still up. Sigh.

At Blue House Academy, January doesn't just mean a new year or a new semester; it marks the anniversary of starting our homeschool adventure, and this is our 9th anniversary! To God be the glory -- left to my own strength and abilities, we would have never made it past that first January. Oh, how many wonderful memories are wrapped up in those 9 years!

We had a peaceful Christmas at home this year. My mother-in-law and Marc's oldest sister came to visit for a couple of days before Christmas, so that made up for our not traveling out to Denver this year. It was the first Christmas in years we stayed home and we really, really, really needed that down time -- especially Marc, since he got very, very, very sick over the Christmas break. I had just a touch of it, but mostly kept from getting the full-blown virus by overdosing on olive leaf extract and vitamin C.

By the end of the break, I could tell we were ready for routine again -- Ryne had watched just about every DVD series we own (all of Star Wars, twice, all of Harry Potter, all of The Lord of the Rings), Grace had to be surgically removed from the iPad on which she spent hours chatting with her friends, and Anna slept for two straight weeks. So, in case I ever give the impression that we are perfect and spend all our free time reading, playing board games, and doing other lovely, worthwhile things . . . Ha! No, we were less than inspiring. ; )

Monday was back to school. It's funny, with the girls' school there is such a distinction between first and second semester, but for Ryne's homeschooling the lines seem a little blurry. Organization-wise I've been thinking of his schooling more in terms of transcript credits. Some classes he's finished with the first semester content and others he's not, if that makes any sense. For example, second semester he switches from American Government to Economics, but because I added in some more material for government, he's still finishing that up. It doesn't really affect the feel of our days -- we just study what we study -- but it does make me appreciate more the flexibility of homeschooling.

Tuesday was Anna's 18th birthday!!! It's hard to believe she's now an adult. For 2016, I'm adding the book The Songs of Jesus by Timothy Keller into my devotional mix, and Psalm 4 was the reading for Tuesday, which includes the verse that used to hang above Anna's crib, "I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety (verse 8)." Reading that felt like a hug from God. She's not my little baby anymore, but the Lord still watches over her.

Anna requested a pistachio cheesecake for her birthday, so after taking Ryne to the orthodontist that morning I quickly made the cake that I forgot should have been in the refrigerator all night. It still turned out wonderful and we had a nice family celebration that evening.

One of her gifts was a life-sized cut-out of Finn from the new Star Wars movie. There's a picture on someone's phone, but apparently not mine (I'll see if I can add it later). Finn stayed in the kitchen overnight and when I came downstairs to fetch my coffee Wednesday morning, I almost had a heart attack because I had forgotten about him and just saw some large person with a weapon, lurking in the darkness. He's now found a home in the senior lounge at school and is planning on attending college with Anna next year. : )

The rest of the week was more settling back into the routine of school, ballet, catechism class, dentist appointments, laundry, etc. I made a trip to the community college to pick up Anna's textbook for the statistics class she's going to take this semester. Turns out it's an ebook, so it seemed crazy spending $140 for a piece of paper with a code on it. I keep reading tips about how to save money on college textbooks, but so far with the two classes she's taken, there have been no options except to buy the material as offered in the school bookstore. I certainly hope next year when she's a real college student we'll have more options.

Since I missed the last weekly wrap-up before the Christmas break and then we had two weeks off, I'm sure I've left out so much, but these were at least a few of the highlights.

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas break! Happy homeschooling!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up {The Final Stretch}

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The final week of Nutcracker Tour! Grace is, of course, very sad to be done with the tour, since it's one of her favorite times of the year. But the end of Nutcracker does mean that it's almost time for Christmas break, so she'll adjust just fine. : )

On the homeschool front, there is not too much to report. Ryne is enjoying the relaxed pace and is knocking out his hefty reading list to complete before school resumes in January. I'm, as usual, quite behind in my reading.

Anna had a pretty big week. She had a very helpful doctor visit on Monday -- we're hopeful she might start getting relief from symptoms we always attributed to her low iron levels, but could be something else entirely. She spent most of the week finishing up a computer class she's been taking at the community college. Due to her health issues and some software issues, she got behind in the class (although it sounds like everyone else was behind too) and had to work almost nonstop for several days to get it all done before the final on Thursday. She did get it done and aced the class, but she was very glad to cross that off the to-do list! She received a much-needed boost on Wednesday evening when she checked her email and found out she was accepted to one of her most competitive college choices!

On Thursday, I baked a turkey for the school potluck lunch being held Friday. It's only been the last few years that I've started hosting Thanksgiving, so my turkey baking experience is limited and I usually overcook it. Naturally, the turkey I baked for the potluck was my best ever -- completely moist and tender. Grrr. Not that I don't want a yummy turkey for the school, but it would be nice to have those results for my family. I think my success was due to not having a million other things to be doing at the same time -- putting ten million side dishes in the two ovens at different temperatures and different times, getting the table set, making sure the kitchen doesn't look like a war zone, and taking a shower are all distractions to successful turkey baking. ; )

Thursday night I dropped Grace off at ballet, rushed home to check on the turkey, made a 45-minute appearance at Marc's office Christmas party (which was, thankfully, on our side of town), and then picked Grace up from ballet. When I got home, I carved the turkey (something I usually leave for Marc, but he was still at the party, so I received instruction via youtube!). By then, I was exhausted, but we still had a batch of sugar cookies to make for the potluck. Anna was awesome and mixed the dough, and I decided to just cut and bake them in the morning.

Friday's schedule was a work of art: The morning half of the Nutcracker tour was cancelled, so Anna and Grace left for school at 7:30. Grace was going to attend her first class, and then she needed to leave for Nutcracker warm-ups. I finished the cookies around 8:15, quick showered, and then headed to school with all the food. Marc came with me, because at the party the previous night he lost his keys, so he was going to borrow Anna's car while she was at school. On the way to school, he got a call from a woman he works with -- his keys had somehow fallen into her purse! We dropped off the food, grabbed Grace, borrowed Anna's car, and headed our separate directions.

Grace and I enjoyed another wonderful day of Nutcracker Tour and I got all teary-eyed for the mom of the one ballerina who is graduating this spring. I may be taking my role as a mom to a senior a little too far. How I'm ever going to survive this year, I have no idea!

We finished with Nutcracker around 4:00, Marc picked Anna up from school, they went to pick his car up from the house where the office party had been, but that was actually just a rental he's had for a month since getting in a wreck, but the dealer called to say the repairs were done and he could pick up his car that afternoon, so that's just what he did after Anna dropped him off (catch all of that?). He picked up frozen pizzas on the way home, and we all just collapsed. It was one of those blessed nights with nothing on the schedule, so we just relaxed. It was wonderful!!!

Saturday was pretty low key too. Grace is probably waltzing this very moment, as I type -- her last Nutcracker performance of the year, at a local police academy. This is Marc's first time to see her dance in Nutcracker, so I'm excited that he gets to not only see her dance but how neat it is to take Nutcracker on the road.

I know I'm not alone in this crazy schedule stuff. It really is amazing how much we can squeeze in a day or week, right? It can be overwhelming at times, but we really do treasure so many of these memories. Nevertheless, I'm ready for some more lazy nights like last night! We have one more week of school -- finals week for Anna. The final stretch!

Enjoy your weekend and happy homeschooling!