Monday, December 4, 2017

Getting over my "homesick hump"

I'm gonna admit...moving across the world has had its ups and downs.

The first 2 weeks were FULL of honeymoon moments.

Like learning to drive successfully to the grocery store.  
*Kiwis drive on the opposite side of the road than Americans!*

Cooking and eating dinner in our private courtyard of our hotel room.  
*We lived here for 1 month and I wasn't about to complain about daily housekeeping and FREE laundry services.*

Exploring and finding some of the BEST parks we've ever played at.

But after about 2 weeks, the homesick blues sat it!

We were having ZERO luck finding a rental home.  Our shipping container was SLOWLY making its way over to New Zealand.  So we were still living with what we had brought over on the plane.  And I was digging deep to find joy in our every day lives.

But I eventually caved in...It had rained for 3 solid days.  The boys were antsy and I had my first case of the homesick blues.  The kind that makes your heart hurt.  The kind that makes you just wanna...curl up and cry!

So how did I get over it?

There seemed to be 3 things that helped.

Side note:  I didn't add, to this list, that spending time curled up in bed watching endless episodes of House Hunters and Fixer Upper (oh, Waco, Texas!) probably wasn't that helpful.  Or maybe it was...  it rested my body and mind.  But most importantly, it made me come to realize that I truly was a little down and depressed.  I needed to get over it for the sack of myself and my family.


Yep!  Simple and sweet.  Good ole NATURE!  It's good for the body, soul, and mind.  Even if I needed to go for a walk, in the rain, I went.  

Our hotel, for the month, was 3 blocks from the majestic views of Lake Taupo, Mt. Ruapehu and Mt. Ngauruhoe (aka Mt. Doom).  So, it was a quick walk that helped clear my mind.  And allowed me to pray and meditate...without those sweet, little interruptions.  


Yep!  I said it.  I used to HATE running until I had my 2nd born.  And then I entered my first 5K and discovered that I was pretty good.  And even better, it makes me feel REALLY good.

I learned too that posting your work-out successes on social media pushes you.  You end up with virtual coaches and cheerleaders.  So I have no shame in the "look what I did" posting game.


After hosting the Brave Writer Conference back in May, I made a commitment to journal as often as a homeschooling mom could.  Julie Bogart made sure that we had plenty of time to practice writing during this 2-day event.  And something that I took away was... if I wanted THEM to write, they needed to SEE me actively, enjoying writing too.  I used to journal a lot at night when I could gather my thoughts.  But with this new goal, I had to write while my boys were awake!  So you can usually find me writing during or after my morning coffee.  Just something quick... a thought, maybe a scripture or sweet memory of yesterday.

And what better time to journal than when you are on the adventure of a lifetime!  My hope is that this journal is something that my boys (and their wifes) will treasure some day.   


After writing and reflecting during the post, another point evolved to help me get over this "homesick hump".  

A big piece of my heart belongs to homeschooling!  You all know that.  So now that the "vacation" was over, after our big move, we needed some structure.  We all needed some small doses of homeschooling.

So we gathered up a few supplies and started these few bits:
*Khan Academy (15 minutes a day)
*Poetry Tea Time (once a week)
*weekly library visits
*downloaded FREE copies of the 7-Day Writing Blitz from Brave Writer
*grabbed a few spiral notebooks for Nature Journaling
*Read-a-louds at our favorite parks

Everything seems to be falling into place!


And that's just how it is.

Happy Learning with your loved ones!  
Cheers from over here

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Day at the Deer Farm

We had only been in Taupo, New Zealand for 2 weeks.  But we needed some time to play with other homeschoolers and explore this beautiful town that we now called home.

I noticed a Facebook post on the Taupo Homeschoolers page about a DEER FARM!  I thought what the heck!  Little did I know, we would be in for a BIG treat!

*Side note*
I discovered this day that I need to give myself a good hour when driving anywhere!  We were completely lost looking for the Deer Farm.  Google Maps got us to the vicinity but couldn't get us to the exact mark!  #frustrating

I didn't feel so bad when I found 3 more minivan mommas driving around with the same look that I had on my face.  We all caravaned together and made it to the farm...15 minutes late.  Not too bad, right?

When we pulled into the farm, I couldn't believe my eyes!  Really!?!  Was that an airplane?  

Mr. Murray Mutuschka not only raised deer but he was a lover of airplanes, a self-taught artist, and a grandfather!  When we shook his hand during his welcome, he had that "grandfather twinkle" in his eye.  

Mr. Murray showed the group his art studio where he worked with bronze to sculpt deer and other large land animals.
He also painted a number of oil paintings...7 were hanging on the walls for his 7 grandchildren.  

We were later taken to this amazing cabin passed his farm home.  

He showed us his collection of deer antlers along with 2 ships that he had built out of "rubbish" (aka garbage)

After admiring this fantastic cabin, we headed out to see the deer, bison, miniature horses and even a zebra!  And my oldest learner found a lab pup named Maona...he was given the honor to walk her around on her leash!  What a treat for this animal lover.

We even got a chance to sit inside a few more planes!  My learners were in HEAVEN!

As if Mr. Murray hadn't done enough, we ended our field trip fun with a hayride pulled by a tractor!!  And these two guys didn't want to see us go!

Yep!  That was a sheep and Maona chancing us all the way back to the front gate.  Don't see that everyday in America!

Our first field trip, in Taupo, New Zealand, will go down in our homeschooling history books!  We are so excited to see what adventures await us and I am sure you are eager to see them too.   So be sure and stay tuned. 

Happy Learning with your Litte Ones. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Why Not? Becoming World Schoolers

I remember it all so clearly!

April 2017:  

My husband and I were sitting on the couch chatting about our future.  We had just returned from an amazing month of road schooling to Florida for a month.  We were also coming up on our anniversary of our trip to Switzerland.  I had been following many "World Schoolers" on Facebook and Instagram.  Our hearts were hungry for more adventure!

We were also questioning what was happening in America's government and wondering if we could find a new spot to hang out for a while.

He loves the mountains.  I love the ocean.  And what came up?

New Zealand!  WHAT?!?

It had pretty much everything we were looking for and there was a job opportunity for my hubby there.

So "Why Not?!"

Oh,'s 7,392 miles away from our family and friends.  It was only on the other side of the world!  Away from the comfort and a beautiful, homeschooled life that we had built up over the past 4 years in Austin, Texas.

But we kept coming back to "why not"!

Why wouldn't we take up this amazing opportunity to expand our children's view of this world?

Would we look back in a year from now and wonder why we didn't take this BIG leap?

So in June, just 2 short months after we had visited New Zealand, we decided to say "YES!" to this crazy idea.
May 2017:  We started this exciting process with getting the boys their own passports! 

June 2017:  

Once the passports came in it was time for the Visa process!  Now that one was tricky and VERY time-consuming!  It took us an entire Saturday to complete the paperwork and take and measure pictures to the right size.  

Then once we got the news that we were all set with our Visas.  It would be time to tell our friends and family.  That was hard!  But we promised to spend as much time and make as many memories as we could in the next 4 months.

October 2017: 

It was time to start selling "the big stuff" like cars!

2 weeks to go...

We had no cars!  And it was time to start selling all electronics house-hold stuff that wouldn't make the move.  Like washer and dryers, TVs, my Kitchen Aid Mixer (that was hard!), lawn mower and so much more.

1 week to go...

A sweet family let us borrow their truck for the week while he was away in China.  HUGE blessing!

4 days to go...

We were homeless!

No cars, no home, just 5 suitcases packed with our Halloween costumes, a week's worth of clothes and some toys.

We spent our last 2 nights at a cool hotel in downtown Austin.  My dear friend drove us to the airport.  We were unsure that we could find an Uber to fit all of us and these suitcases.

With one last hug goodbye, we walked through those airport doors... ready for our adventure of a lifetime.

I didn't look back (in fear of crying my eyes out).  I just looked forward, stayed strong and keep saying to myself...

"WHY NOT!"  

God had opened this door, well actually many doors!  This entire adventure had been in His plan all along.  He knew when we set off on our very, first road schooling trip to Colorado that would just be a bit of a "boot camp" for us all.  He knew that if we remained prayerful and thankful for this opportunity that He would guide us throughout the whole process.  We just had to be willing to step out and move forward.  

And that is just what we did!  And that is just what we are continuing to do... "Why Not."  

Monday, October 23, 2017

R-O-A-D schooling 101

Our family has become the "ed"ventures in the last year.  We've found that we can hit the road and take our school (and life) with us.  What a freedom to have!!!

Have you ever thought about doing the same?  I hope this post inspires you to get planning and get going!

On our return trip from Florida, this past April, I asked my husband if he would help me come up with an acronym for ROAD that would sum up our advice for anyone interested in road schooling.

And this is what WE came up with: 

R - Research

Once you determine your destination...research! research! and do some more research!

My husband and I would sit down, just about every weekend, months before our trip and ... you guessed it ...research!  

He had his iPhone, I had my laptop and we'd bounce ideas off each other.  

The best way to start is simply looking at maps of your destination, with your budget and travel dates in mind. 
Try to set dates (if you homeschool) during the "off-season"... like after big holidays.  It's so much cheaper!

Keep in mind...
*How long is your drive going to take? 
*What types of stops will you make along the way? 
*Where will you stay and for how long?  Camping, friends/family or Hotel?  

If you start your research early enough, you should be able to book some really cheap rentals for your stay.  

For example, we began researching for our April road schooling trip in January.  We found a cheap condo using Vacation Rentals By Owner in Florida for only $70 a night.  We reserved it so far in advance AND it was the month after the Spring Break rush!  SCORE!

O - Optimize

From clothes to curriculum...optimize!  My husband and I have learned that we tend to over pack on just about every occasion.  That's any parent's tendency, right?  

As for clothes, our rule is 3 of everything.  3 shirts, 3 pants/shorts, 3 undies...even for the adults!
If you are going somewhere cooler - add a hoodie and/or a long-sleeved shirt!
Take a trip to the laundry mat or use the hotel's washer and dryer.  It makes for a fun adventure!

WHAT?  Trust me!  Kids don't care what they wear.  And is the purpose of your trip to look good or learn?   And the less laundry there is to get done, the more time you'll get to spend with your family.  

As for curriculum - instead of bringing BOOKS, listen to audiobooks or podcasts in the car.  Use map apps, download documentaries or YouTube videos about your final destination instead of bringing workbooks.  Bring Washable Window Markers to write on the windows of the car.  Play word games or practice spelling using these fun markers.

On our last trip, I bought a cheap spiral notebook.  We would create a story, through drawings, by passing it around the car.  My oldest would start by drawing the setting, my middle would add the characters, then I might add a problem.  Once the drawing was finished, they would verbally tell me the story while I wrote down each word they said.  Also, know as "Jot It Down" which is a Brave Writer technic created by Julie Bogart. 

Use your travel time to learn about your destination - because once you are there, THAT is going to be their "classroom". They will have some background knowledge and will be ready for the "ed"venture.   

No WiFi in the car?  We HIGHLY recommend purchasing a "hot spot" with your cell provider for your road school trip.  Then cancel it once you get home.

A - Adjust

If a part of the trip doesn't go as planned...don't stress, just adjust.  The way you react to the unpleasant situation makes an impact on your children.

Maybe the museum is closed due to renovations (that they didn't mention on their website! UGH!) so use technology to ... adjust and adapt.
We wanted to go to this museum but discovered that so did EVERY other public school in the area.  So we went and explored downtown until 2pm then the museum was all cleared out!

Maybe a kiddo gets sick on the trip - adjust!  Flat tire?  Adjust and turn that into a teachable moment!

Keep in mind, the way YOU react to a problem will affect the attitude of the trip.  Show your children that together, as a family, you can all adjust, reevaluate, learn and move on!

D - Don't over plan!

Don't over plan your schedule and road schooling curriculum.  There!  I said it!

My husband and I learned it's important to have a "skeleton schedule" but to leave room for some "meat and muscle" on the trip.

The first year, I loaded up a file box FULL of stuff like meaningless worksheets and workbooks, our wall calendar with each month of the year, pencils AND markers, glue bottles AND glue sticks...the list could go on!

In all honesty, I was so terrified about how I was going to keep my kids busy in the car for multiple hours.  And more concerned about not having "proof" that my kids were learning while on the road.

After each trip, I came back with empty workbooks, unused glue sticks but an iPhone FULL of pictures! That was "proof" that we'd learned so much more than what I had planned and prepared for on paper.

Inviting your children to write daily in a journal is also a fun, educational way to document learning.
I love taking my kid's writing, add pictures that I took and create a memory book of the trip.

It took me a few times to get the hang of how to pack and plan.  And each trip looked different.  Be sure and check out these links to see how I did it.

A Homeschool Vacation - Part 1
Let's Get Ready to Road School!

 Each trip happens at a different season in your homeschooling journey...embrace it.  You will look back at your many memories of your road schooling trips and smile!  Trust me.

If you are a beginner and a little unsure of this idea, try a day trip.  Invite a friend or a family member to come along and help.  Take those baby steps until you become comfortable to plan a longer trip.

If you are a veteran road schoolers, keep traveling and pushing yourself to go bigger!
Maybe you and your family will go from road schooling to world schooling.
That's what as happen to us!!!

We stepped off the plane and headed straight for Huka Falls to start exploring our new home in Taupo, New Zealand.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Dear Mema...

October 2016

Dear Mema,
   You probably saw from up above that we just spent 2 weeks at the cabin in Lake George, Co.  Wow!  What a magical place.  So many memories were made there and are continuing.

Every time we stop in at a local store or even at Santa's Workshop in Colorado Springs...I proudly say "My great-grandfather built an amazing cabin at Lake George.  And now my kids are spending some time there!"  We are so blessed to have this place to laugh, love and remember.

Did you see that deck!?  I can't believe how much we enjoyed the new deck.

We laughed:

We learned:

We remembered:

Wish you could see how happiness happens here.  But I bet you really can hear it.

Every time we are at this cabin, we feel happy.  We feel your presences.  We feel at peace.

August 2017
Dear Mema,
Remember those trips we would take as GIRLS-ONLY!  No boys, no men...just these ladies and a maybe a few more!  I remember the laughter you all shared and the stories yall would tell.

Well, guess what!!!?
I continued that tradition this year and headed up with 2 of my dearest friends.
We laughed:

 We learned and discovered new places:

We remembered:

Every time we are at this cabin, we feel happy.  We feel your presences.  We felt at peace.

October 2017

Dear Mema,
We wanted one last family vacation before we set sail to New Zealand for a few years.  So guess what the unanimous decision was?  That special place...that heavenly place that your daddy had built for you and for his great-great-grandchildren to enjoy.

Every time we are there, we feel happy.  We feel your presences.  We feel at peace.

Everyone was a year older.  But some things remained the same:

We laughed...

We explored...

We learned...

I wish you were still here on earth to see and experience the excitement that this cabin brings to your great-grandchildren.  I wish we were able to hug you and hear your laughter.  

This cabin was only the beginning to our homeschooling "edventures".  Because of this cozy cabin, Jeremy and I were able to extend our vacations into learning opportunities for our kiddos.  Because of this cabin, we were able to have a "home away from home" for many weeks at a time.  Because of this cabin, my family and friends got to experience what you had always wanted for this special place...LOVE and LIFE!

I miss you every day!

Sunday, July 30, 2017


I love having names for our homeschool days that we can remember.
Over the years, we have added these fun acronyms for days of the week.

We have:
#FunwithFood Friday

It just seems to click with us!  When we wake up, we know what to expect for that day.

And I recently had a mom tell me how she LOVES our ideas for #techtuesday and started implementing the this series of blog posts are for those of you that might wanna give this idea a try in your upcoming homeschooling year.


Yep!  The hashtag explains it very well.  

And to clarify, we don't just do Math on Monday.  I just implement a bit more Math on Mondays that's FUN!

We've taken trips to the pet store with clip boards and calculators.  I ask the kids to pick a pet that they would love to have.  Their job is to add up how much it would cost to bring that pet home.
And of course, the hardest part is saying "NO!" to the pet's they want.  LOL . Sorry kiddos, it was just your Math Lesson!

Most of the time, I incorporate Math into our read aloud time on Mondays.  This is an easy way to begin incorporating #MathMonday.  I simply browse and grab 2-3 Math books from our local library for that month.  

That Monday, I may read aloud the whole book or just a selected page.  

One day, we made acute and obtuse angles out of carrots after reading page in a cool geometry book.  Another day, we talked about how long it would take to get to the moon from the earth.  I just borrowed this book from my 6-year-old astronaut.

 We've made maps!  We've even play putt-putt golf and gone bowling.


Another easy and fun way to start simple with #MathMonday is to play a game.
Many homeschoolers have discovered the power in playing games to help teach math and reasoning skills.  If you check social media under #gameschooling, you'll find so many cool ideas!
Here are a few we've used.

And my last go-to resource for #MathMonday is Khan Academy.  
When nothing is planned for this day, we are always happy to count our 15 minutes of Khan Academy for our MathMonday.

So are you ready to start your #MathMondays?  I hope this post helps you get started with some ideas.  

Be sure and check back in a few weeks.  I'll be posting some ideas for #TechTuesdays!  

Happy Learning with your Little (and BIG) Ones!

Getting over my "homesick hump"

I'm gonna admit...moving across the world has had its ups and downs. The first 2 weeks were FULL of honeymoon moments. Like le...