workboxes

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ADD and homeschooling.  I know there are many of us who walk this path.  It’s a hard, rocky path but occasionally the path smooths out.  This happened for me when years ago, someone mentioned the word workboxes.  My son has a terrible time trying to stay organized and he used to feel so overwhelmed at the beginning of the school day.  So after some research, I decided to give workboxes a try.

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Last school year was our first attempt, and it was beautiful!  My son’s tears and frustrations decreased considerably.

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The nitty gritty:  I purchased the Trofast (I always want to call it Trogdor! darn you Homestar Runner!) storage unit from IKEA.  Little labels were sketched out and laminated. The female side of Velcro is on the back of each label, and two male sides are on the drawers.  Labels are on the left for uncompleted work then moved to the right when completed.  In each drawer are all the books Liam needs to complete his work.  His pencils, erasers, rulers, and other supplies are all in a basket on his desk.  And it’s as simple as that!

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Over time I’ll transition Liam out of the workboxes and into a locker style something.  I’m sure as he grows, his organizational skill will improve, and these workboxes will hopefully give him a leg up.  I don’t use these with the other children since I have limited space and they seem to be doing fine without.  However, I can see how workboxes would be fantastic even for kids without ADD or any other learning disability.

Cabin in the woods part 3

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Here we are at the beautiful Bear Lake.

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Believe it or not, the hiking paths here were pretty crowded.  However, the snow and ice gave everything a feeling of enormous stillness.  Everything was so soft and quiet.  I could have spent hours here, but poor Max and Matthew were finally done by this point.

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These three amassed a great collection of Junior Ranger badges on this vacation.

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Estes Park is such a cute little town.  The food is wonderful (and thanks to the anonymous couple that paid for our meal at Poppy’s Pizza!!!  We said a rosary for you, whoever you are!)

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Liam and Jack had mountain man training from Jason.

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Mirror selfies!  Stella was really sick for most of the trip.  She finally felt better the last few days but still begged for me to hold her the entire time.  I didn’t mind one bit!

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Matthew and Max honed their climbing skills.  This was a pretty steep hike and these tough little boys handled it!

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Over the ridge we found blue skies and gorgeous fields.

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One of the kids took a picture of “butt rock” because we’re classy.

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Qwirkle was our game of choice while waiting for dinner.

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If only the chipmunk knew what the BBQ pit was used for…

The repeated sentence on this trip was, “When we come back here…”, so I think the kids had a great time.  Even though it’s a lot of work for me and Jason to take so many little ones on a hiking vacation, we still had a great time too.  I am looking forward to the day when our hikes can last longer and over much harder terrain.  Soon!

Cabin in the Woods part 2

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Picking up where we left off…Liam drawing on a snowy day.

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Matilda stole the camera for a quick selfie.

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The kids found these really fantastic building blocks that were made from stone. A quick google told me they were made from sand quartz, chalk, and linseed oil.

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Tilly bird watching.  Two little magpies greeted us every morning.  The kids loved watching the magpies play and fly around.

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Zelda was saved by Link, Luigi, and Michelangelo.

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Liam is special.

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The snow in the forest was breathtaking.

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Can you spot the chipmunk?

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I’m really impressed with how well the littlest guys kept up with all the hiking.  I was holding Stella, so she made me do all the work.

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I took so many pictures of Moraine park, but I couldn’t capture it well.  This area was so beautiful!  The fog lifted after a while and herds of elk grazed along the park.  All so wonderful.

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Just a few more pictures to come…

Cabin in the woods part 1

Here are a TON of pictures from our vacation that was allll the way back in May.  We stayed at an off-the-grid (run by nothing but a couple of solar panels, no interenet, no phone, no tv…Heaven!) cabin in the middle of nowhere in Roosevelt National Forest.  So here’s how a family of 8 vacations! Enjoy.

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How sweet are Jack and Stella by the fire?!

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An elk visiting for breakfast.

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Yes, I bathed my baby in the kitchen sink!  One shower with 8 people, so I had to make do.

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Jason became our bearded mountain man.  It was super cold, so we had to keep the fire going all week.  Pa Ingalls would have been proud!

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The kids spent hours by the creek in front of the cabin.  They spent the time rock hunting, rock tossing, and building forts.

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This is a completely working outhouse.  Last school year, the kids learned that outhouses in Colonial Williamsburg were called necessaries. Max kept running to this outhouse saying, “I need the necessary!”

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This fog was carrying some huge snow clouds behind it.

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When it was too cold and snowy to be outside, the kids spent time drawing or writing comics.  Here is Matthew explaining to Matilda the robot he wants her to draw.

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This is Matilda’s robot creation.

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A hill rose up behind the cabin.  This is the “mountain” Liam told everyone he almost reached the peak of.

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Vacation reading: The Road, Pioneer Girl, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  Reading The Road in the middle of nowhere with pitch black nights was not a good idea.  I was kinda scared!

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Jack creating a comic.

More pictures to come…

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!!