It’s hard to believe that another year is quickly coming to a close. I remember as a kid, the years seemed to drag on. The days were long, my youth seemed endless and time passed slowly. Nowadays, by the time I get lunch picked up, it’s already a new day. (Procrastination much?)
2015 was a tough year for our family. We generally roll with the punches pretty well but that year was a rough one. By the time 2016 popped up, we were ready for something new. We’d been hurt deeply and needed something fresh to lift our spirits. Thankfully, 2016 is just what we needed.
So, what were we up to at the Homeschool Hideout in 2016? So glad you asked. 😉
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- We added on to our house, making homeschooling and living both totally crazy! Mr. Man worked on the addition every chance he had: evenings, weekends and any spare moment in between. After 3 exhausting months, we finally had our new master suite, complete with a built-in storm shelter/bathroom. (Hello, Missouri weather!) We are still so in love with it!
- With the new addition, the girls got their own spaces to decorate…and clean! They’ve watched hundreds of YouTube videos about their dream bedrooms and we are slowly working on turning their rooms into a retreat they love. Miss Manners is struggling to keep her space organized but Miss Bookworm, who is the complete opposite, is enjoying her own space and keeps it as tidy as she pleases.
- The kids love anything outdoor, so of course, camping is one of their favorites. This year, the sweltering heat kept us from camping much during the summer but we promised the girls we would camp every weekend in September. We did manage to go most weekends and I think this is a tradition that may be worth repeating. A few times, we simply grabbed blankets, hotdogs and chips and headed to the country to enjoy a night under the stars. We did wake up cold and a little wet from the dew but those were some of my favorite nights of the past year. The pure happiness the kids felt was worth every single goosebump on my arms!
- This year has been a wild ride for me. I have taken chances on myself and my dreams like I’ve never done before. First off, I set a New Years goal to turn my blog into a business. I vowed to make it a priority and take the steps I needed to monetize it. In February, I purchased Elite Blog Academy, a step-by-step class that walks you through the process of transforming your blog into a money-making machine. Hundreds of hours later, I’m still taking baby-steps to complete the class but the results have been amazing. I’ve put in the time and done the work. I’ve set a schedule, waking before the kids to work on blogging for at least 2 hours a day. I’ve skipped family functions to work, worked into the wee hours of the morning and squeezed every last ounce of free time out of my schedule to see my blog thrive. Its been rewarding to finally prioritize something I love and watch it grow by leaps and bounds. Also this year, I decided to sign up to be an Usborne Books and More consultant. The books are my favorites and the 25% commissions were impossible to resist. It flows perfectly with my blog, so I’m able to work them both at the same time.
- This year, our homeschool days have been much more relaxed. After taking off the end of 2015 due to a devastating family death and then our home projects in the early months of 2016, I was happy to get back on track in the fall semester. Even then, I realized how much our views on education have changed. While basically taking an “unschool” approach for the last several months, my kids picked up right where they needed to be. This made me relax a little and ease up on the rigorous schedule I had planned. Now our days consist of a math lesson, some spelling and grammar and then free-for-all. We’ve learned to embrace reading in our free time, educational videos and hands on play. It’s really the most natural way for us to do school. My kids love learning about science, history and geography in their own time and ways.
- The afternoons at our house were, once again, spent in the kids’ clubhouse. They’ve added pallets, discarded items and tarps, making their club look like a homeless tent city but they absolutely love it. There’s a kitchen, complete with an old sink, a wooden spool “café” table, a deerskin rug in their pallet school room and even a “medicine den” complete with the best “herbs”. Their imaginations have soared with the freedom we’ve allowed them in their clubhouse. They take anything and everything they think can be useful and add it to their clubhouse. It’s turned them into the most resourceful kids I’ve ever seen! We give them free range with knives so they’re learning to be responsible, too. I fear Miss Bookworm may be outgrowing the clubhouse, but I’m happy knowing the long days spend out there were simply memories in the making.
- The fall semester has brought me closer to a group of local homeschool families, who we’ve known for years. This year, we’re making an effort to get together more, take more field trips and experience more real-life together. We’ve enjoyed art lessons, ice skating, personal baking lessons, games of kickball, a trip to the pumpkin patch, and a tour of the county courthouse. It’s been a busy couple of months but the kids are loving our super-small group and I love that there is no pressure.
Miss Bookworm News (12 years old):
- While this gal usually prefers to stay home, she decided to sign up for dance classes this year. I forced her to try a one-week dance camp and she fell in love. She is still “iffy” about performing in the recital but I love seeing her passion for dance grow every day.
- She started and finished the Harry Potter books two or three times this year. She has a slight obsession with Hogwarts. We even attended a Hogwarts Masquerade! It was loads of fun but we learned Miss Bookworm can make WAY better Butterbeer than Starbucks!
- For her birthday, Miss Bookworm got tickets to 2 different concerts. First up, we saw Rachel Platten, the singer of the oh-so-popular “Fight Song.” The next concert was Meghan Trainor. It was a completely new experience for all of us, but we had so much fun. She chose to take her best friend, her super-hip uncle, her sister and of course, her mama.
- My big girl has evolved into a nurturer. She is an amazing helper around the house and I can count on her to get things taken care of. I am confident she could run our household alone. She dreams of becoming a librarian when she’s grown. She’s still the soft-hearted girl I’ve always known but is also developing her own (hilarious) sense of humor.
Miss Manners News (8 years old):
- This has been a busy year for Miss Manners. She would tell you the highlight of her year was her mega-vacation with my parents. They started in Missouri and took a 10-state road trip. They hit all of the big spots: Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, the Iowa State Fair, Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the Rocky Mountains. Her favorite stop was Walnut Grove, Minnesota. The town is famous from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book “On the Banks of Plum Creek.” To this day, she still talks about standing on the big rock, exactly where Laura had been.
- Miss Manners is at such a fun age. She loves exploring and trying new things. She isn’t afraid to jump in and ask questions. Her latest venture is taking a piano class. She is dedicated to practicing and it’s obvious. Her piano teacher boasts at how quickly she is learning, but has no idea the number of hours Miss Manners spends in front of the piano. She has already learned several songs and is working hard to conquer “Silent Night” before Christmas. (And, boy, that song is a doozy!)
- This girl has earned her name well. She is the most polite kid you’ll ever meet. Recently, we talked about how giving a compliment can brighten someone’s day. Since then, every person we meet receives one of her heartfelt compliments. Whether it’s the cashier’s fingernail polish or the old man’s striped shirt, she leaves everyone feeling a little more loved that when she met them. She has a heart for animals but I’ve also noticed a love for people, too. She dotes on her babies, Robin, Sydney and Lily, making sure they get plenty of one-on-one time with her. She’s eager to know life stories, experiences and memories from older generations. She thrives on conversation with adults. In a nutshell, she’s developed into an “old soul” over the past year.
Bear News: (3 years old):
- Oh, my sweet Bear. He’s as rotten as he is adorable but this year has been a challenge for him. Early on, we noticed a speech delay so we enrolled him in our local school district’s speech program. Once a week, he visits with his speech-language pathologist. They play games, create fun booklets and work on letter sounds. He looks forward to his weekly visits and enjoys the one-on-one attention from his teacher.
- Once we’d settled into his speech routine, we discussed sending Bear to preschool. I am not a huge fan of early education programs, but I thought the social interaction might benefit him. (Let’s be honest: what Batman-loving 3 year old wants to spend all day with his mom and crazy sisters, doing their school work?) He is insanely busy and we found him growing more frustrated with us. He wanted to run, jump and play 24/7 but that just wasn’t possible. We thought a change of scenery might be in order. We found a local preschool and he has fallen in love. His speech is improving and he looks forward to hanging out with his friends every day. He is very quiet and well-behaved at school, which is slightly shocking after knowing how he acts at home. Of all the changes in our family this year, this has been the hardest. Thankfully, he only goes to school for half a day, so that leaves us plenty of time to snuggle and love on him.
Our year has been a whirlwind. The days were long and the year was short, as usual. Looking back, it makes me sad and proud how much we’ve all changed this year.
If you’re looking for a fun way to rehash the year with the kids, feel free to print off this super-cute year end review freebie. Take a few minutes to fill it out and freeze these precious moments in time forever. Simply left-click and save the image to your computer, then print!