Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Signs of Spring: Clothesline Revival and Graduation (episode 7)

I went outside today looking for any new flowers. I have "gas plant" and peony bushes budding, but nothing new blooming. Or so I thought, until I spotted a splash of red behind the garage.

A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on

We've lived here through 7 spring seasons and I've never noticed a tulip hiding back there before.

Since that was the only new flower, though I'm still enjoying the lilacs from last week, I decided to share my clothesline. I haven't used it in months!

A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on

And last of all, the thing that's been occupying my time this week ... graduation is approaching!

A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on

We are very proud of our daughter! She's making tough decisions as she prepares to launch into the world, but we know she will succeed at whatever career path she chooses. She's intelligent, outgoing and a hard worker, and I know God has a special purpose for her life.

Happy Spring!
April E.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Signs of Spring: First lilac blooms! (episode 6)

Spring is moving along, and the flowers are shifting once again. The grape hyacinths are gone. The daffodils are dying. But beauty still remains.

I love watching my yard transform through Spring and Summer, but this is the first year I decided to document it weekly.

A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on

A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on

A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on
What is your favorite Spring flower?

April E.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Homeschool Veterans Still Get Conference Jitters!

Sure I've been homeschooling for 16 years (counting preschool) but I haven't been to a homeschool conference in ten or more years. I feel like a complete novice at the homeschool conference thing.  To make matters worse, I'm actually going to this one without my husband, and it's a conference location I've never attended. The only homeschool conference I've ever attended without my husband was the Five In A Row weekend retreat.

I won't be alone. I'll be riding there with some other homeschool moms, but I haven't actually met any of them. They're Facebook connections in the neighboring homeschool community. So add that bit of uncertainty into the mix.

I am looking forward to it, but I expect to feel a bit overwhelmed. Usually I attend the conferences for the workshops. This time I really do want to spend time exploring the Vendor Hall. I just feel as if there are a lot of new curriculums out there that I haven't seen ... that might be a better fit for some of our kids. Especially our boys.

I just didn't expect to feel so nervous and overwhelmed about the Homeschool Conference after all these years. Steve and I will be changing places for the day. I'll be the one getting up at 4:30 in the morning and leaving here between 5:30 and 6. He'll be the one sleeping in and staying home all day. That should be fun for both of us. (I'm not excited about the getting up early part at all.)

When was the last time you went to a homeschool conference? Do you go every year, or rarely?

Nervous as a Newbie,
April E.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Real Life Homeschool - When You're Exhausted

I should have posted this already. I meant to. But after the week we've had (which included a sheriff deputy banging on our door at 5:20 am today, to tell us we had another fire) I've been brain dead. The good news is my boys were awake early thanks to the banging and excitement, and they got their school done early because of it. Everyone did!

The bad news is I took a nap this afternoon. I took my review book to bed and read until I couldn't anymore. Then I tried to sleep, but my 2 year old son was doing somersaults over me. He finally stopped and I got an hour's nap ... and woke up to a very messy living room. Of course, I have older kids who can keep an eye on things when I nap now ... but I haven't always.

When my kids were all little, I sometimes turned on PBS or Veggie Tales movies in the afternoon, laid on the couch and dozed while they played around me. If you're a mom, you know that not-quite-asleep haze that moms get in when they're trying to nap but they're also keeping an ear on the kids. I've been there so many days over my 19 years of motherhood, usually to awaken feeling worse than I did when I laid down.

Now the kids are playing outside, the 2 year old is napping, ham and beans are simmering on the stove, and I'll try to get this post written before I clean up the living room.

Every Mom knows what it is to be exhausted. Sometimes we push ourselves so hard, trying to do more than we possibly can. Sometimes the family just gets inundated with illnesses that rob us of sleep and wear down our immune systems. Sometimes emotional anxiety and turmoil creates its own suffocating exhaustion. We push on, not taking care of ourselves, until we are falling apart emotionally.

My husband has figured this out. He used to wait until I was just a wreck, having an emotional melt-down, and then tell me to "Go to bed!" I'd usually huff away upset that he thought the problem was me. Except he was right, and things always looked better the next day. And the parts that hadn't changed, were much more manageable when I was rested.

Now he tries to stay on top of things more. He is always urging me to get my rest. He knows I can not push myself as I used to. I suppose the fact that I now take daily medication for high blood pressure and anxiety were wake up calls for both of us. Or maybe he feels his own need for sleep more now that we're both over 40, and wants us both to take care of ourselves.

I just want to say "You are not alone! It's okay to admit you're tired. It's okay to ask for help. It's okay to let yourself rest."

  • Take a mental health day, and pop in some educational dvds. Let the kids watch a documentary or an educational cartoon. Some of our favorites are Magic School Bus, Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego?, and Liberty Kids. You can buy the whole set inexpensively on Amazon.
  • Ask your husband to put the kids to bed, and put yourself to bed first. It's okay to let your husband know you need this help, that you really need to rest.
  •  Sleep in. If the kids wake up and come to you, let them snuggle in and fall asleep again. The schedule can wait. School will be there a little later. Just rest.
  • Take a Sunday nap while your husband does something with the kids. Let him take them to the park, or let him watch a movie with them. 

You have a lot of responsibility on your plate. You have little ones depending on you for everything. Their education depends on you. Your husband depends on you. Sometimes you have to just let go of the schedule and the lesson plan and take care of yourself.

It will be okay. You can go a week or two longer into the summer if you have to. You can even skip the last few lessons in your math book! (It took me awhile to get over feeling guilty for this.)

It will be okay. I promise. So go ahead, get some rest! Your kids (and your husband) will thank you for it. Because a rested Mommy is a happy Mommy, and a happy Mommy makes a happy family.

April E.

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop

Meet some of the other amazing Moms and Homeschool Crew members:
Indy Homeschool
The Open Window-An Autism Blog
Creative Madness Mama
Hopkins Homeschool
Tots and Me...Growing Up Together
Our Journey
Crystal Starr
A Little This ... A Little That
For the Display of His Splendor

Thursday, April 9, 2015

When your homeschool day gets derailed!

My kids have allergies, but not severe allergies. Usually we muddle along with over-the-counter allergy medications, vitamin C, and lots of tissues. The hardest part is actually that my kids feel tired and lousy, which ends up affecting their behavior. Sometimes I don't realize the pollen count has gone up until I start wondering what in the world has gotten into my kids, and why are they fighting so much.

We're in that season now. Unfortunately, I just discovered that our 4 year old (V) is going to be one of our allergy kids. She started with a sniffly nose yesterday, then she got hit with croup at 2 am. Really it was one of the worst croup attacks we've ever dealt with. I woke my husband up and we discussed whether we could treat at home or needed to go to the ER. We do have a nebulizer from when our 9 year old had repeat bouts of Reactive Airways as an infant, so we gave her a breathing treatment. It helped a lot and after 1.5 hours, we were able to settle down and try to sleep again. Of course, we had 2 wide-awake little ones to get back to sleep, and the four of us were all in our king size bed.

So our day started with Steve and I oversleeping. He woke up two hours late! V was sleeping well at that time so I let her rest. When she woke up at 9, she was still hoarse and sounding congested in her chest, so I called the doctor's office. We got an appointment, and I took her to the doctor mid-morning. That meant leaving the 14 and 15 year olds in charge of their siblings for awhile, with instructions for everyone to work on whatever part of school they could without me. Yeah, that went well. Nothing got done. So now we're playing catch-up on a scaled-back school day.

A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on

But that's okay. I'll snuggle my girl through some breathing treatments, give her the steroids she was prescribed, and hope for a better night's rest tonight. We'll also start her on allergy medications, along with her other siblings. Hopefully tomorrow, and next week, will be better.

Real Life Homeschooling requires flexibility, and grace. Grace for yourself, and your kids. Grace from your husband who comes home to a messy house and leftovers more often than he'd like. But it's so worth it! We may have to lower our expectations for school today and tomorrow, but I still get to be the one here snuggling my girl, and my kids won't fall behind for long.

So if your week was sent a little topsy-turvy by unexpected illnesses or other trials (flooded basement, broken washing machine, lost math books, whatever) just remind yourself that you're developing perseverance, patience, grace, and flexibility. And the benefits are completely worth it!

April E.

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop

Check out Real Life Homeschool posts from these other Homeschool Crew members:
Life at Rossmont
A Stable Beginning
Happy Little Homemaker
Joyful Hearts and Faces
Day by Day in Our World
Mama's Coffee Shop
Delightful Learning
Double O Farms
Tales of a Homeschool Family
Home Sweet Life
A Rup Life

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Night We Didn't Make It To the Homeschool Group Fine Arts Fair

For today's Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop, I had planned to share about our homeschool group's Fine Arts Fair last night. We have one every year in April, and we try to attend each time. We don't usually have kids performing, because we haven't invested in music lessons for them. When my teens were younger, I was able to convince them to do skits, but not in recent years. One year my oldest daughter played the guitar and sang, but she almost had a panic attack before she got started.

Most of the time we take artwork the kids have made. This year we had planned to take some projects they are working on for 4-H. My 15 year old has been making decoupage art for her wall, and my 9 and 6 year olds are painting wooden initials for their walls.

Except, just as we were about to leave, my boys headed out to feed goats and found this ...

Needless to say, we didn't make it to the Homeschool Fine Arts Fair. Instead, we tried to slow down the fire with a hose while waiting for the fire trucks to arrive. I guess my kids got a real life lesson on rural fire service and fire safety instead. Four hours later, seven small fire trucks, and a front loader ... and it was controlled for the night. We have neighbors who will be helping keep an eye on the still-smoldering section that was separated from the rest of the tree pile (remnants of removing a treeline that separated two fields).

And that's part of our real life homeschool in the country.

April E.

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop

Meet some of the other Homeschool Crew members:
Treasuring Life's Blessings
Double O Farms
Simple Living Mama
Fried Clams and Sweet Tea
This Sweet Life
A Net In Time
Counting Pinecones
Some Call It Natural
Kingdom Academy Homeschool
Debbie's Homeschool Corner

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Signs of Spring: Easter Time! (episode 5)

A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on

A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on

A photo posted by April E (@elcloudapril) on

Wordless Wednesday at Life at Rossmont

April E.