Mindful Monday

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Every Monday morning in our homeschool, we choose a scripture verse to memorize and focus on throughout the week. This is our chosen verse for this week:

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This verse is from The Book of Mormon. I have a personal testimony of the truthfulness of this book of scripture. In my faith, as a member of, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe in the Holy Bible as well as other books of scripture, such as The Book of Mormon, which have been given to us for our day. That’s a lot of scriptural knowledge to draw from which is very comforting to me. I love the scriptures.

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This week Marcus only has his online classes on Monday, so this is the perfect time to finally dive into our state history unit study. We are starting with the thirteen colonies. Here is our rather bland apartment dining room, which I’ve transformed into a homeschool room of sorts. (The U.S. map is hanging up too high for my taste, but I didn’t wish to create another nail hole than the one that was already there. I love the little bookcase.)

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I made this star-spangled border myself as a timeline border. Each strip is unique. I’ve always wanted a timeline on our wall. Soon, we’ll be adding dates and some really cool state postcards. So, stay tuned for future pics of our growing timeline.

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Last Friday, Marcus and I revisited Tohono Chul park, and when we looked at the art gallery there, I was inspired by this cool art. Suddenly I knew how to spend some Amazon gift cards that were given to me for my birthday last month! Hopefully, by the end of this week, Marcus and I will have created some funky original art of our own. 🙂

I wish you each a mindful Monday (a day of purpose to start a new week).

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Looking Forward

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Remember the movie, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium? Near the end, Mr. Magorium instructs Molly Mahoney to “turn the page, continue reading… and let the next story begin.”

Whether I look at this part of my life as the next story or just the next chapter, I’m definitely in a major transition and I can relate to Molly’s reluctance to accept the inevitable change.

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Driving Marissa to college, the back (and around her seat) loaded with her stuff, including a giant stuffed penguin.

Just this past weekend, David and Marissa and I drove to BYU-Idaho where we settled Marissa into her apartment, which she shares with five other girls. We unpacked her belongings, placing everything on the shelves, drawers, built-in desk or in the open closet.

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Walking around Idaho Falls. It’s hard to see, but one of our temples is in the background.

We made a few trips to the local Walmart and one trip to Albertson’s to stock her up on basic groceries and other necessities, such as cleaning products and bedding. The multiple shopping sprees happened because there were other college related activities going on in between (picking up her student card, meeting mentors, etc.) so we were on limited time frames, plus we kept discovering things we hadn’t anticipated, such as the desire for bed risers (so she can store stuff under her bed). The stores were bursting with other parents shopping with/for their college kids. We were all on the same mission, buying many of the same items, which were getting picked over fast. Popular items such as pancake mix, Pam spray, individual plates, bowls and mugs, and fingernail clippers were scarce!

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Returning to her apartment after our only shopping trip together.

We attended the parent orientation where tears threatened as I took in the sea of parents and students surrounding us. I was thinking dark thoughts, taking myself back in time when I was 18, fresh out of high school and clueless about what to do next with my life. I didn’t have supportive, loving parents encouraging me along the way. I knew college was a long shot, but I had to get away from home. I had no money, no guidance and honestly, I was burned out from just surviving high school. So I took a job for the state of Colorado, as a roommate to a deaf mom and her eight-year old son. They had been rescued from an abusive family and placed under the care of the state. My job was to help the mom become as independent as possible. Sadly, I knew more sign language than she did. We quickly became friends as I helped her cook and clean and be a responsible mommy. I knew how to parent because I cared for my younger brothers and raised my baby sister. But I digress…

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Driving through Zion’s national park on the way back to Tucson.

I could tell my baby girl was holding back tears of her own when we hugged farewell on Saturday morning, after taking her to breakfast. I cried all the way back to our house in Utah, where we picked up our son, loaded our own things in our car, hugged our oldest daughter farewell, and began our drive back to Tucson. (We said goodbye to our oldest son over Labor Day weekend.)

Just the three of us. I now have three college kids living independent lives. I’m now raising a sort of “only child” for the next five years. And this mama is on a roller coaster ride! Letting go of my kids, watching them spread their wings and soar, is natural and for the best, but it is most heart wrenching thing I’ve ever done as a mother. It brings me joy to see them taking full responsibility for their lives, pursuing their dreams and especially continuing to live our gospel values, but oh how I miss having them around on a daily basis, seeing their smiles and receiving their hugs.

I don’t know what it’s like to have a mother who misses me and yearns to hear from me and be a part of my adult life. What I do know is that I’m going to find joy in this next chapter of my life. I’ll probably continue to have a few weepy moments, and I can tell my son is in a bit of a funk right now, missing his big sister terribly as they are best friends, but we’re going to embrace this new homeschool year together (which we can finally ease into tomorrow now that we’re back in AZ),  and we’re going to look forward to each and every text and phone call from the college kids, and especially to spending Thanksgiving and Christmas altogether as a family.

So, here’s to turning the page.

When I Grow Up

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Just this summer, I was mentioning to a long-time friend how emotional I’ve been preparing for this new chapter in my life, in which three of my four children are now grown and in college, leaving only my baby of thirteen-years, home as a sort of “only child” for the next five years.

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I guess I should’ve been prepared for the questions she then threw at me, as I’ve heard them from well-meaning friends and family before:

“Have you thought about taking some classes? Figuring out what you want to be when you grow up?”

Sigh.

I remember singing this song when I was a little girl… “When I grow up, I want to be a mother, and have a family. One little, two little, three little babies of my own…” Oh how I loved mothering my younger brothers, my baby sister and my dolls! When I was a teenager, I chose to spend Friday nights babysitting of all things.

My friends and family know that I married shortly after graduating high school and immediately began a family of my own with my wonderful husband, who had already put himself through six years of college, and was established in his career (he’s sixteen-years older than me). I have been fortunate to have the means as well as the desire to stay home and raise our four children.

I’ve embraced my roles as wife and mother and I’ve made my family my career. I am a homemaker. I serve in my church, have my own hobbies and love to spend time with my family and friends. I look forward to being a grandmother someday. (I want my grandchildren to call me, “Nonnina” which means “little grandmother” in Italian.)

I know it’s typical for many of my friends and family to “go back to school” at some point, and I honestly admire them for that. However, I have never felt compelled to follow that same path. That is not my dream. I seem to know something they don’t know: I have already furthered my education in other ways. My non-homeschooling friends and family don’t get this, but my travels and living abroad, my homeschooling lifestyle, and just being a wife and mother have taught me so much! For example…

♥ I know the life-cycle of frogs, how volcanoes are formed, and other science related tidbits, from hands-on unit studies and experiments.

♥ I understand Algebra for the first time because I taught it to my son (and teaching reinforces learning).

♥ I can name various cacti of the Sonoran Desert from my nature walks through desert gardens.

♥ I’ve improved my nature photography skills simply by taking photos out in nature.

♥ I can share first-hand knowledge about Peruvian culture, having lived and traveled in Peru for four years.

♥ I can speak and understand Spanish from years of submersion.

♥ I’ve expanded my vocabulary from reading classics aloud to my children.

♥ I’ve learned planning and organizational skills, simply by planning and organizing my home and homeschool.

♥ Etc. etc. etc.

I took a cake decorating class once, with my daughter and enjoyed it because it was special mother-daughter time. So, yes, I have thought about taking a professional photography class for no other reason than my love for photography.

 

But, what do I want to “be when I grow up”?

I’m already that person. 😊

Our Inspiration Word & Scripture Theme

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We watched the Olympic opening ceremony and I was touched when the Refugee team, made up of ten refugees walked out. I also didn’t know this was South America’s first time to host the Olympics. We thought this opening ceremony was beautiful and amazing. And, if I’m understanding correctly, Rio de Janeiro’s national anthem is called, “Aquele Abraco”, which translates to “That Embrace”. Embrace, as in, hug or welcome.

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This past homeschool year, we did something we had never done before: we incorporated random weekly scripture verses which we tried to memorize, and I chose a yearly scripture theme as well, which was from our Doctrine and Covenants, section 88, verses 118-119:

And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.

As a new homeschool year is nearly upon us, I asked Marcus to choose our scripture theme and he selected one of his favorite verses from The Book of Mormon:

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I’ll be explaining the context of this verse in a later post. It’s actually a beautiful and amazing scripture story. ♥ Something new (to us) that I thought we’d try this homeschool year, is to have an inspiration word. It’s something many homeschooling families seem to do, choose a word to inspire their year of learning together. Our word is (you guessed it), Embrace. For us, embrace will mean to adapt, nurture, nourish, affirm, appreciate, cultivate, seize and foster. I chose Embrace as our word because I am entering another chapter of motherhood. I’m thinking of calling it, “I am now only one child away from being an empty-nester and I don’t like it one bit!”, which seems rather lengthy and a bit negative, but that is how I feel. Can you see why I need this word?

Did you watch the opening ceremony? Do you have a word that is inspirational to you at this time of your life?

Happy Hearts in Planning Mode

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It has been a busy summer here at our house, but it’s time I nail down our plans for this upcoming Happy Hearts homeschool year. I feel like we’ve come full circle. We started out homeschooling with just the two of us (my youngest son and I), and here we are, seven years later, back to just the two of us, now that both of my daughters are homeschool graduates.

So here goes… this will be Marcus’ eighth-grade year. I have already registered him as a distance student through the amazing Liahona Academy. His online classes will cover earth science, American government and civics, and a combined Geometry/Algebra 2 class. The best part about these classes is that they are filmed live, but the recordings are available anytime, and they are only Monday-Thursday. So, there’s a lot of flexibility for homeschoolers. Also, these classes are gospel based, which I love. This will be Marcus’ fourth year with Liahona.

That was the easy part! Now for the rest…

English/Language Arts- I want to cover more poetry this year. I purchased three poetry books to give us variety:

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The first is called, Pocket Book of Poetry and it contains select poems by several poets, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Lewis Carroll and Robert Frost. The second book is called, The Bridge Across the River by Shepherd Thorleif Halvorsen, and the third book is from Simply Charlotte Mason’s Enjoy the Poems collection (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow).

We have yet to try any Shakespeare, so with my daughter’s help, I chose, Much Ado About Nothing and I found some free online resources to accompany it, which I’ve downloaded into a folder.

We will also cover grammar and essay writing.

For our read-alouds, so far I have, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain, and the third book in the Mysterious Benedict Society series, and the second, Nightmares! (The Sleepwalker Tonic), by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller. And then, we’ll go from there, but I want to include a novel by Jules Verne (Last year we read, Around the World in 80 Days).

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Geography/History- I love geography so we have already learned the states and capitals twice, and having lived in Peru, we experienced another culture, but I want to go deeper this year and do a state history unit in order of the statehood dates, as well as a seven continent (with select countries from each continent) unit. This is where I’m still planning, but I have ideas swirling around my head (and jotted down), plus, I’ve purchased a couple of goodies to get us started. The first is this set of 50 state postcards. The second is this decorative USA map which I’m going to frame.

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Art and Music- We will continue with our set of Maestro Classics, which we started using last year. Since the only art my son currently enjoys is chalk pastel art, I purchased a couple of e-books from chalkpastel.com. One is American Landmarks so that will go nicely with our state history unit.

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I’m sure I’ll be adding a few more resources/curriculum as we go, but for the most part we keep things simple and leave time for new pursuits. As for our schedule, I can’t plan that in detail until I know his online class times. I only know the starting day is Aug. 30th. I’m also checking out different homeschool planners to see if one appeals to me.

Lessons From Our Homeschool Journey

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We didn’t discover homeschooling until our last child entered public school. You can read our homeschool story here. Until then, my husband and I blindly followed society and sent our children to local public schools where we experienced some good, but definitely the bad and the ugly that the system offers. More about that here. I started out homeschooling only my youngest, but eventually both daughters joined us (by then, my oldest had graduated from public high school). Now the girls are homeschool graduates and we’re back to a mom and son duo.

For the first four years, we blissfully unschooled (I highly recommend the unschooling approach for the early years). Now we are happy eclectic homeschoolers: Some of our subjects are covered through online classes. We use very little formal curriculum. We love reading great literature together, we enjoy unit studies, we self-teach, and we follow our passions.

With that in mind, here are some of the lessons we have gleaned in seven + years of homeschooling (in no particular order):

♥ We have learned that there will always be naysayers among our circle of family and friends, but we’re not homeschooling to please them. We’re homeschooling because that is what is best for our family and our opinions are the only ones that matter.

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♥ We have learned that we may sometimes feel alone on this journey, but the reality is that there are many other homeschoolers out there. There are other like-minded parents and kids who treasure homeschooling as much as we do.

♥ We have learned that education is not separate from life. They are one and the same. In other words, just living life is an education. (We have also been privileged to have lived in another culture and what an education that was!)

♥ We have learned that there are multiple ways to acquire knowledge. There is no single right way to learn something and the best way to learn looks different for every child and can even change from subject to subject.

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♥ We have learned that we will never go back to the public school system. For us, this is simply not an option. We value our freedom and time together and we can see how the system keeps getting worse.

♥ I have learned it’s unwise to compare our homeschool to any other homeschool. Each homeschool is unique because each family is unique.

♥ My kids have learned they should not compare their education to that of their friends, especially their public-schooled friends. We believe every child’s education should be one-of-a-kind because every child is one-of-a-kind. (Of course, schools don’t believe this.)

♥ We have learned that we prefer being outdoors surrounded by nature. We love our beautiful earth and appreciate it more when we go outside and immerse ourselves in it. There is much to discover and learn from nature.

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♥ And finally we have learned to embrace childhood and family time, to not get caught up in what the world thinks, but to live by our values and go with our family flow.

What homeschool or life lessons have you learned?

Weekend Nutshell (A Cave, An Award & A Barn)

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Just this past weekend we headed out on a road trip, from Tucson to our home in northern Utah. We moved our baby girl back home so that she can participate in her last Young Women’s camp and prepare for college life. We are in transition. Come September, we will have three of our four kids in college and only our youngest left at home. I know I’m always saying this, but these stages of motherhood are so bittersweet for me. On the one hand it is a joy to watch my children blossom into these amazing young adults. On the other hand, there is a longing to bring back their childhood and I miss having them home with me.

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Each time we make this road trip, we try to stop somewhere and play tourists a bit. This time, we stopped at Moqui Cave in Kanab, Utah. There is a small fee to enter the cave itself, but we felt it was worth it since it was our first visit. The cave features dinosaur tracks (which were carried in back in the 60’s when it wasn’t illegal to remove them, ha ha), Indian relics, a large collection of florescent minerals (they glow under UV lighting) and a gift shop where Marcus bought himself dinosaur poop!

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As I have mentioned before, half of our homeschooling is through amazing online classes (streamed live) through the fabulous Liahona Preparatory Academy, which is a private LDS-based school in Utah. Well, back in early May, I received a call from Liahona, informing me that Marissa had been selected to receive the Distance Star Award. We kept this award a secret from Marissa until just last night when we presented it to her in an impromptu award and graduation ceremony (which is why she is sporting my Japanese robe and her brother’s Doctor Who fez).

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This award was in recognition of Marissa’s community service, leadership and academic success. She received a beautiful trophy and a write-up in the yearbook. Our whole family of six was present for the ceremony. Liahona also gave Marissa a certificate of graduation.

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I had also designed and purchased a homeschool diploma for Marissa, which I presented to her as well. She has definitely earned it and she is excited to start at her university this September. She will be studying zoology.

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After waving goodbye to Zach, who had to return to his apartment for work today, David and I took an evening drive through the countryside, stopping every so often so I could photograph some of the barns. I love how many barns are in this little town. This one is a favorite and the first barn we see as we turn off the highway whenever we are headed home. More barn pics to come! ♥ This morning I dropped David off at his shuttle for the airport so he could return to the torturous Arizona heat. I do feel guilty leaving him to fend for himself while the kids and I enjoy a temperate Utah summer, but we will see him again around the 24th of July, which is a pioneer holiday here in Utah. AND we have a ton of yard and project work to accomplish here in the next two months. ♥ Thanks for reading!