Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Happy Arbor Day

We woke up this morning to drizzly, rain and cloudy skies.  But there is one thing that I have learned about Kiwis...the weather doesn't stop them.  

So we finished up some Math, loaded up our spades, gardening gloves and put on our gum boots (aka rain boats).  

We drove to Spa Thermal Park to help plant native trees for Arbor Day 2018.

Today will go down as a great homeschool memory! 

After walking down a beautiful trail, we came up to this hill where we'd be planting...and the sun was shining!  The perfect way to spend our Arbor day!

Kids Greening Taupo invited our homeschool group to join other local schools and citizens to help plant trees. 

Small shovels were provided!  Aren't they so cute and green?! 

So many great questions about plants and our environment were asked.  I love moments like these! 

 Once all of our hard work was finished, we enjoyed "Milo" (New Zealand hot chocolate) and some grilled "bangers" (sausages)!

Happy Arbor Day!  We hope that you got out and about to enjoy this beautiful world we live in.  Every day should be Arbor Day - said the 7-year-old!
I agree, kiddo!

Monday, May 21, 2018

"We made it Home"- Part 2 - The Hoorays!

Every life experience has its "Blahs" and its "Hoorays!".

And when we decided to move our family over to New Zealand, we knew we would experience both.  Now that time has past and we are settled into our lovely home, I've had time to reflect on the first 4 months of our time in this new country.

It didn't go exactly how we had planned it to go...but that's what made this chapter in our book of life pretty epic!

If you missed my "blahs", be sure and read it here...

The Blahs

Now for the FUN part of the experience... the memorable moments...

The "Hoorays!"  

1) We truly embraced the unschooling lifestyle.  I never really understood the unschooling approach to homeschooling until I was forced to do it!

And I liked it!!! And so did the kids!

When ALL of your homeschooling supplies are locked up for over 100+ days, you just teach with what you've got!  You let your children learn through experience and play.  We read brochures and magazines instead of having a "reading curriculum".  We gather nature specimens from our hikes and then looked them up on the internet to understand them better.  We cooked and baked ALOT more than normal.  We embraced living in others homes and used their board games for a #gameschooling- type learning.

We were given the chance to explore this new country!  And so we did just that.

2) R-E-S-P-E-C-T (sing it!).  This was another "hooray" that we took away from this LONG, homeless vaca. We used this opportunity to teach our children to respect other's property during our many stays at many, different homes.

When you book-a-bach/Airbnb, you are a guest in that person's home.  We made sure that our children understood that.  These weren't our things and our home, but we need to treat them as if they were...with lots of respect!

And to maintain that respectful attitude, we STILL had daily chores.  UGH!  We made our beds (most mornings), we picked up our toys before vacuum time, and we even cleaned the toilets on Tuesdays!  I wanted the boys to understand that guests that show respect are always invited back.

3) No matter what house we were "living" in...we always "made it home".  Yep...the saying "Home is where your heart is"...it is so true!  Home, at this moment in our lives, was all about where WE were together.  We made LOTS memories.  We watch our favorite movies and had dance parties.  We baked our favorite cookies and even celebrated 2 birthdays during this time.  We still had epic hide-and-go-seek games with NEW places to hide!  We became a family that depended on each other and the love that we share!

We made each house, our home!

And on February 20th...we finally "made it home".
My first cup of coffee on our front deck

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Peek Inside our Homeschool Week

I love looking back at our week.  Just when I start to think..."we didn't get ANYTHING done this week", I look back at the pictures that I took.  I smile, pat myself on the back, give my kids a high-five and think again...

Our Monday

A family tradition, we had back in Texas, was to go out and eat Vietnamese food every Saturday.  Well....New Zealand doesn't have the best Vietnamese food, so we ventured out and introduced the boys to Indian.  Guess what...THEY LOVE IT!

So we decided to check out this book to read and learn more about this fabulous country and its culture.

In honor of Easter, we gathered up some materials to make our "Empty Tomb".  Our hope is that our grass seed will sprout and look beautiful on our Easter table on Sunday! 
I am so thankful for the ladies over at The Homegrown Preschooler for providing such a great curriculum for us to use!

This week, we also began our "Morning Meeting".  After listening to a The Homeschool Sister's Podcast, with guest speaker Pam Barnhill, I decided that I wanted to incorporate this fabulous idea.  Snacks, candles and special music is how I draw the boys into the kitchen for our Easter Bible Study.  

Tech Tuesday

It was time to hack into our old electronics and see what was inside.  The boys LOVE doing this!  

I think next week, we might head over to the "Op Shop" aka Thrift Store and grab up some different electronics to take apart and learn with.

Wizard? Wednesday 

We are REALLY into Harry Pottery these days!  So I pulled a printable from Big Life Journal so that the 9-year-old could read all about his favorite author and her failures that made her famous.  

The boys were using an old video camera to film their version of Harry Potter starting the cutest Harry Potter that I have EVER seen! 


We LOVE making cookies for ourselves but we REALLY love making them for our neighbors!  The 7-year-old made a "copy work card" while the other 2 whipped up some cookies for our new neighbors.  This picture makes me smile...how about you?

A Rainy Friday

Wanna know the coolest way to calm down your kiddos on a rainy day?

Open up a coffee shop for Poetry Tea Time!  

Here's what you need:
*CoffeeHouse music playing
*Candles lite
*Newspapers, books and magazines on the table - picture Starbucks!
*cash register
*tip jar
*tea or hot chocolate

Optional but adds so much FUN!
*Canned Whip Cream

What do you do?  
The Mom pretends to be a barista at Starbucks.  (remain "in character" it's SO FUN!) The kids come to the bar, place their order, pay with play money, leave a tip, then take a seat and start reading.

The Mom serves the kiddos their drinks.  They all sit down, read poetry and enjoy the sweet ambiance of this homeschool!  I think Julie Bogart would approve this one!

What do you think you might try in your homeschool after taking a Peek Inside our Homeschool Week?

Happy Learning with your Little (and big) ONES!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

"We made it home" - Part 1 - The Blahs

The sweet 3 story townhouse with Pizza Hut & Dominos right next door!
The House on the Hill...wild berries in the back, 4 years old's bowling alley in the front

And...the million dollar mansion in Khandalah, New Zealand.
Tomatoes, strawberries, and LOTS of room to roam!

4 hotels, 5 houses, and 1 basement later...
Whoa!  The last 5 months have been one, crazy ride.  But we made it though...

Did I ever think that we'd move over to a new country and be homeless for the first 100+ days?

Would I have changed the situation?
MAYBE?  IT HAD IT'S blahs AND hoorays!

Not gonna lie, I am soooo glad we are happily settled into our New Zealand house.  It's been 3 weeks.

And now that I have time to reflect, smile and giggle about it all.  I  came up with "3 Blahs to being a nomadic homeschooling family for 100+days."  Just in case you were curious...

The Blahs

1) It felt like a LONG vacation.  And you ALL know that Mom's never truly get a vacation.  With each different house along the way, came new procedures.

"Please remember to pick up your dirty undies and put them in the laundry basket!"  ~me, in my loving mommy voice
"But where is the laundry basket at in THIS house?" ~said everyone but me
No dryer, no problem!  And there's the laundry basket!

Some kids are still at the stage where they need me.  For example, #2 and #3 still need me to help them with their shoes, but it's hard enough to find any shoe in our house.

You all know how it is in hotel rooms or at your in-law's house.  So frustrating!!

Just think of the chaos in a week vacation without the structure and procedures your life at home...and add a few months to that.

2)  We stayed, as guests, in many different houses in NZ.  They call them Baches and you book them.  https://www.bookabach.co.nz/ Very similar to Home Away and Airbnb.
And when you are a guest with 3 rowdy boys, you say "DON'T TOUCH THAT!!!" or "GO FIT THAT!" a lot!!!  Boys break things and dig holes in yards, just because!  They literally climb walls!
Looks like Stranger Things 2, right?
Now, they did have a great, life lesson on respecting others things (which would go on my hooray list).
But constantly being on guard for the owner's things...It just wore me down.

3)  Never getting comfortable.  Don't you love the feel of home?  Your home.
I love the way our coach feels when I am reading to the boys.  I love the smell of our home.  I love the comfort of my bed and my pillows.  It just never got comfortable at these homes.  But the kitchens were fun! (hooray!)

But now, I'm gonna get mushy on ya...

I have time to look back on it all.  I can't help but think this...
God sent us through a family boot camp starting in 2016 with our first Road School trip.  Everywhere we'd go, whether it be the beaches of Florida or the mountains of Colorado, God was just preparing us for this exact moment!  He kept reminding me that "we made it home" then, so we can do it now!  Train them up!


Every night, I'd walk up the stairs at the Million Dollar Mansion and before tucking in the boys, I had to close a curtain in their room.  And this is what I would see.  #godwink and a sweet reminder that someday soon...
"We made it home!"  (celebratory voice)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Wait!...I'm an EXTROVERT!!

If you personally know me, you know that I'm an "outgoing, socially confident person" (Wikipedia definition of the word extrovert).

I am a total extrovert!  I get my energy from other people and being around...other people.

Back in Austin, Texas, THESE were "my people" (and will always be).  These women were the gals that gave me energy, confidence, and comfort.

But when you decide to move to the other side of the world, these people can't come with you.

Wait!...I'm an EXTROVERT!  I'll be just fine.  Right?


With the unpredictability of our housing situation, here in New Zealand and the 100+ days of maintaining a nomadic, minimalist homeschooling family... I slowly started to accept the fact that my EXTROVERT-self was shifting into an INTROVERT-self.

And for this season in my life, it wasn't going to be THAT bad.

This would be a season to reflect.  A time to be still and quiet, when my soul wanted to mingle and meet!

This needed to be a season for connection.  Not with others outside our home (extrovert-self), but with those inside!  I needed to use this time, that God has so preciously given me, to connect with my family.  The 5 of us has been the only thing consistent over the past 5 months.  And my children need to feel and understand how powerful a family connection needs to be during these tough times.

On my most lonely days, I get out and go!  And the other day, I set off on a hike up Mt. Kau Kau.  ALL-BY-MYSELF!

I randomly selected a podcast, popped in my earbuds and set off!

Well, this NPR podcast was an interview with Brene Brown and it ended up being SO POWERFUL! God must have known that THIS is what I needed to hear and feel as I hiked up that mountain.  And thank GOD for sunglasses...because I was crying most of the hike up!

My EXTROVERT-SELF was set free after hearing this Maya Angelo quote mention by Brene Brown.  And those tears were tears of joy and comfort.  It was all going to be alright!

Extroverts have a hard time with this.  We WANT to belong someplace with someone.  But as my heart has recently been opened up with this idea of being an introvert, this quote made more sense. 
We have to be comfortable with being free with ourselves in order to have "True Belonging".  And it's a hard process, but with it, comes a great comfort.

So for now, I'll continue to be at peace my new INTROVERT-SELF.

I'll embrace a season for "True Belonging".  

A dear friend mentioned in a recent text..."And I'm certain that once you guys get settled, you'll get a groove going that will include a group of supportive friends that will meet those extrovert needs in you.  God has already chosen those friends for you and is preparing them to welcome you and your boys into their lives."

But until then, reflection, connection, and true belonging are going to get me through this!

Friday, January 12, 2018

We've Become Homeschooling Minimalists!

When I saw this picture post, I just couldn't help but laugh!

30 days?  Ha!  We've been playing this "minimalist game" for a good...ummmm...84 days now!

We've been wearing the same clothes that we brought over in our 5 suitcases on October 21st when we moved to New Zealand.  As I started writing this post, it's January 11.

Here's my Mase-man guarding our luggage before we head to the airport!

But when I packed those 5 suitcases for our EPIC adventure, I was packing for my family NOT for my homeschool.

I was packing knowing that it would be 10 weeks until we saw our shipping container.  We would find a rental home and homeschool and live happily ever after!

Well...that hasn't exactly happened!  While we wait for our rental home to get "cleaned up" (long story), we are living in the basement of my husband's boss.

Not only are we playing the minimalist game of life, but we've become "Homeschooling Minimalists".  And it's been really refreshing, in all honesty!

So, if you feel like your homeschool is getting too fancy and full!  Minimalize!  Play this game!  And you don't have to move across the world, like we did, to do so...I promise.

Chances are that you are fresh off the Christmas break boat and everything is fun and fancy-free!

But in "Funky February" or March Madness...
Shelve what is stressing you and your kids out and try these 3 homeschooling minamalist tips:

Use the Library

No books?  No problem!  You can really free up your HS momma load by letting go of choosing what you kids should be reading and LET THEM CHOOSE!  

That's the joy of the library.  

Getting a library card in Taupo, New Zealand was one of our firsts!  And I can proudly say that we've used it just about every week.  Not only for books but for movie rentals, computer gaming and research!  We've even accessed our online math curriculum on the library computers.    

Wanna Homeschool like a Minimalist?  Getting rid of books (some moms are cringing now) that they don't read is a great way to start!  You can always check out those titles at the library and then send them back.

It's so freeing!!! Trust me:0)


You can journal here...you can journal there!  You can journal ANYWHERE!

You don't need much for this minimalist opportunity.  A cool journal and some fun pencils.  
That-is-it!  And it's so easy to take anywhere! 

My kiddos toss them into my purse (well it's actually a backpack) and off we go.  If we are at a restaurant, they can journal.  If we visit a cool museum, they can journal.  If we go on a hike and they see a New Zealand Tui bird, they can journal!

Journaling is so versatile and kids of all ages can "just do it!"  Because we all know that if the 9-year-old is journaling, then the 4-year-old HAS to do the same!

Explore your City 

Tired of your Math Curriculum?  Head to the grocery store or go out for some mini golf!

Need a history lesson about the local natives?  Why not walk to the local museum or even an old cemetery! 
(Creepy? Cool?)

Maybe your learners have an interest in airplanes?  Take your library books and journals down to the runway or, in our case, the seaplane docks!

As homeschoolers, we have the privilege and convenience to make "every day a field trip day" for our children.  Thinking small and simplfiying can create some of the best memories and learning moments!

And if you want to be a homeschooling minimalist, explore your city and just learn along the way.

Don't forget to slow down and observe what and how your children are learning!  It's a pretty cool thing to notice.

So until our house is ready for us to safely live in, we will continue to live and homeschool like a minimalist. 

Honestly, I have a bit of anxiety about when that day comes.  All the "stuff" that's been in that shipping container for the last 84+ days...is it going to clog up our lives?  Will it overwhelm our choices as we are deciding what to wear or play with?  Will I step back into a more "structured schooler" or remain a "minimalist schooler"?

Stay tuned...I'm sure that I will let you know!

Happy Learning:0) 

Happy Arbor Day

We woke up this morning to drizzly, rain and cloudy skies.  But there is one thing that I have learned about Kiwis...the weather doesn...