Capulin Volcano National Monument

Around January, the husband and I were discussing vacations.  We’ve been on one together before we had kids.  We didn’t even go on a honeymoon!  So we decided to change that this year.  On our two week vacation our first stop was Capulin Volcano National Monument.

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Capulin is an extinct volcano that is part of the Raton-Clayton Volcanic field, and the kids were amazed that we got to hike into the crater.  However we first had to drive two miles up the volcano with a sheer drop off on one side of the road.  I would have taken pictures of the drive, but I couldn’t look out the window!

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Once at the top, we hiked to the very bottom of the crater.  I really, really wanted to hike around the rim as well, but it was really windy and the littlest ones had a hard time walking.  It’s hard to tell how far down we were from these pictures, but it was far and the kids loved it.

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After the hike, the kids didn’t want me taking any more pictures of them.  The only reason they’re all looking at the camera in this one is because I yelled, “Look! A mule deer!”

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On a clear day, the views from the top are amazing.

More to come about our next destination…

No More Teacher’s Dirty Looks…

AngryTeacher

The school year is DONE! This was our family’s 5th year homeschooling, and I have to say it was, by far, hardest.  The end of last year was tough because I was very pregnant and we were trying to sell our house.  Because of moving and having a baby, I didn’t prepare as much during the summer as I should have for this school year.  I also, for some insane reason, decided to change curricula.  Let’s just say that next school year, we are running back to Kolbe Academy.

Here are are a few things I learned from this school year:

1. Make a schedule and stick to it.  The day doesn’t have to be scheduled down to 15 minute increments, but having math, lunch, etc at the same time every day really keeps the kids in a better mood.

2. The more positive I am, the more positive the kids are.  It’s hard, really hard sometimes to stay chipper all day.  This year Liam was in 4th, Jack was in 3rd, Matilda was in 1st/2nd, and Matthew was learning how to read.  On top of that I was caring for a toddler and a newborn.  There is always a lot going on here!!   But I found that the days where I found humor in everything and joked around with the kids all day were some of the most productive days we’ve had.  Don’t get me wrong, the kids complained a lot about doing school, but what kid doesn’t!  But I’m the one setting the attitude example, not the kids.

3. A messy house is ok.  Really, it is.  At the top of my list of things that stress me out is clutter.  But realistically, there will be clutter in my house.  We homeschool 6 kids, and that equals mess.  I can’t change that.  But what I can change is how I feel about it.  I read a great quote by Simcha Fisher that hit me in the heart. “Given the choice,  I will  almost always choose cleaning up a mess over keeping things under reasonable control.”  Yep.

I’ll be back with summer reading lists and activities and curriculum reviews!  Yay for summer!!

Toy Story

I’ve noticed that while my kids love all types of toys, the more simple toys tend to have staying power. Simple building blocks, stacking cups, and wooden colorful toys get played with almost every day here.

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Knowing that, a couple of years ago, I made these toys for my now three year old. I bought the wood pieces from Casey’s Wood Products and painted them with soy based paint. Finally I finished them with bees wax.

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I think the whole project cost around $15, which is pretty good for very loved toys!

Summer Reading

I had high hopes of homeschooling through summer, especially since we ended school early so we could move.  Ask me how much school we did this summer.  Go ahead.  You guessed it…little to none! ha  Turns out we just all needed a big break.  Moving while in the third trimester and homeschooling 5 kids was not an easy task.  So we spent the summer by the pool eating frozen yogurt.

One schoolish thing we did do was read a lot.  So I thought I’d put together a little list of the books I read aloud to the kids and how the kids liked it.  This isn’t a “best of” list or anything.  The kids just picked out a few books and we snuggled up to read.  Perhaps I’ll do another list soon of books the kids read on their own.

1. Indian in the Cupboard  This was a random choice.  I had credit on my kindle, so I let the kids pick out a book.  We really enjoyed this one.  Jack, the boy who claims to hate every book I read, was actually asking for “just one more chapter” each night.  By the end of the book, the kids were fighting over the one little plastic indian we have in the house.

2. Because of Winn Dixie  I’ve always wanted to read this to the kids so I just picked it up one library run.  And we’re big Kate DiCamillo fans here.  This book was fun and the kids enjoyed it. Also I got to use my native southern accent for most of it. :)

3. Pippi Longstocking  I think this one was the biggest hit of the summer.  I kept finding kids sleeping with their feet on the pillow or deciding that they were going to be “thing finders”.  Warning: use a new translation.  I picked up a really old copy that used the word cannibals instead of natives.  I ended up having to explain what cannibals actually are.  Fun.

4. Mary Poppins  We just finished this up then watched the movie.  And I have to say that although I love, love, love Julie Andrews, the book was just so much better than the movie.  The book Mary Poppins was a bit sterner but I really liked her.  And the adventures she and the kids had were just so bizarre that it made the book that much more enjoyable.

5. The Borrowers  So I had a reason for choosing this book.  I really wanted to watch The Secret World of Arriety, but I wanted the kids to know the inspiration first.  I think our favorite part about The Borrowers was what they used for furniture and various items in their home.  I knew the kids were fascinated with little people living in the walls and floors, so I picked up a dollhouse door, painted it, and glued it to the closet wall in Matilda’s room.  The looks on the kids’ faces when they found the door was priceless.

6. Little House on the Prairie  My husband is reading this to Matilda (It was his favorite book growing up).  The boys had no interest, but I haven’t broken it to them that this is on their reading list this year.  They did like Little House in the Big Woods, especially the pig part.  Matilda absolutely loves it.  She tells me about Laura and Ma and Pa all the time.  We’re definitely going to continue the series.

And that’s it.  We have an even longer list for the school year and I can’t wait to get reading!