Welcome to TwoCowgirls, the blog about our crazy life in Downtown Saint Paul!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Year With No Winter Doldrums

Looking back on our past few years of homeschooling, I have found that I'm always hit with a pretty bad case of the winter doldrums.  The intensity of my winter doldrums has seemed to increase over the years.

This year, I haven't had them.

I think there are two reasons why.

1) Winter getaway to Florida.  It helped to leave the frozen tundra of Minnesota for a couple weeks of sun and beaches.

2)  Scheduling time, not content.   We started implementing a few "ingredients" from the book The Phases of Learning by Rachel and Oliver DeMille.  While we're not following their plan perfectly (we're newbies!), I have picked a few things that were fairly easy to implement.  The main one, is doing "kid school" every day.  Kid school runs between 30 minutes to an hour per kid (depending on what we've got going on that day), and we use that time to work on topics I feel they need to work on.

Elise loves math and language arts, so we end up spending most of our time on that.  She seems to be a natural speller, so I don't feel too bad taking it slow (or ignoring altogether) with the spelling curriculum.

Millie doesn't like math anymore, so I've been introducing her to games, and fun activities that introduce and reinforce concepts.  Math Geek Mama is my new favorite resource!!  I had no idea there we fun ways to introduce advanced concepts at the middle school and high school level!!

After kid school, the girls do independent work.  They have been learning about the fall of Rome, and the beginning of the dark ages.  Millie is researching ponds and streams, and Elise is researching weaving.  They read about their topics, and then present what they've learned at the end of the week, during our Friday tea party.

They seem like such easy changes, but they really have (I believe) been the biggest contributing factor to my lack of winter doldrums.

Here are some pictures from the past two weeks:

Welcome to the family, Lily Rose Bun Bun!

Final snow storm of the year (we hope)

First Communion!

Weisman Art Museum

Find out what other homeschoolers were up to, here!  

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Thing About My Plan...

It's funny that I wrote a post about A Day in Our Life, a few weeks ago.  I was so happy with the way things were going, we had a great routine.

Then, we went on our Florida vacation, and I had a LOT of time to do a lot of thinking, soul searching, and planning.

I had been dabbling in Thomas Jefferson Education, but I didn't really "get it."  A couple days before we returned from Florida, I ordered Phases of Learning, and it was ready and waiting for me on my front stoop when we arrived home.  It didn't take long for me to read it, and it changed everything.

Now, my schedule is quite different.  It's really great.  I'll do another Day in Our Life post when the dust settles (probably next school year!).

Here's what we've been up to since we got home:

Jr. First Lego League

Meet the Masters Art Class

SciGirls class

It's hard to do school when the weather is so nice!

Font making class

Center for Book Arts

Lots of neighbor kid time

4-H Shooting Sports

First bonfire of the season!  Bye bye Christmas tree!

A Trip of a Lifetime

After 15 years of NO vacations (and for my girls and I, our first family vacation EVER), we finally had the opportunity to leave for Florida for two weeks!  It was a fantastic break from life.  We spent a lot of time with our families, and made a lot of really great memories.  I came back with a clear head, and lots of ambition :)

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from our trip:

Savannah Georgia (so beautiful!  The Spanish moss is gorgeous!)

About to leave for our first trip to Disney World!

Our first time seeing the ocean!  Hello Atlantic :)  

Naples with the inlaws.  So much fun!!

A walk with a ranger in the Everglades

Lots of outdoorsy fun with with my mommy & daddy

A day trip to Clearwater to see Winter the dolphin and the beach

Siesta Key.  In hindsight, I'd tell us to apply more sunscreen.  We were all SO burned!

The sand at this beach is so cool!  It's all crushed up shells.

Hunting for shark teeth

Santa Fe teaching zoo on the way home to visit Millie & Elise's beloved babysitter.

Finally, a trip to the City Museum in St. Louis.  This place is craaaazy amazing!

There we go!  It was such an amazing trip. Next up:  Yellowstone!  Hopefully we won't wait another 15 years...

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Day in the Life Of... 2016 Edition

It's hard to describe what a typical day in the life of our homeschool looks like, because it changes every. single. day.

One thing is consistent though, our 3 R's time.

9:00 -

I usually try to roll out of bed around 9:00.  I get home from work at 3 AM, so waking up before 9:00 isn't an option.  Sometimes I sleep later.  When I wake up, the girls have already eaten their breakfast.

I don't need an alarm.  Instead, I wake up to the sound of Millie playing her scales and warm up's on the piano.  Elise makes me a pot of coffee, and I sit down at the piano with my cuppa, and help Millie with her piano practice.  Does this happen every morning?  No way!  If you follow me on Instagram, you know that even a dusting of snow can throw off our whole routine.

When she's done with piano, Millie starts in on her Teaching Textbooks, Xtra Math, and Typingweb.com.  I sit with Elise as she practices her pieces.  (Millie does language arts and writing at co-op on Mondays, the one day of the week that we don't even attempt to do our 3 R's).

By the time Elise finishes piano, I usually have to help Millie with her math.  Today was a test day, so I didn't need to help. Instead I tended to our somewhat neglected kitchen.

I sneak in a quick breakfast before helping Elise with her language arts, spelling, and math.

When we're all done, we all sit down and read for 30-45 minutes.  Millie is busy learning everything she can about rabbits, Elise can't get enough Magic Treehouse books, and I am reading Pioneer Girl.

12:00 - 

Lunch time!  I make a lunch menu at the beginning of the week.  If I don't have a plan, I end up making 3 different lunches.  Today we had "fancy curly noodles," or to common folk, Ramen noodles :)  This is my kids favorite lunch, but I almost never buy it.  This is the first time in over a year they've had this treat.

I usually let the kids watch a show while we eat lunch.  Millie gets to pick the show on odd days, and Elise gets to pick on even days.  Today, Millie chose to watch Odd Squad.  I love that show.

Afternoon - 

This is where the concept of "A Day in the Life Of" gets complicated.  Our afternoons are very different, every single day.

If we stay home, we work on history, earth science, or architecture.  The lessons don't take too long.  Just long enough.  If the lessons are particularly interesting, the girls will keep exploring when I'm done.

If we leave the house, we do things like:

Learn all about rabbits with STEM Bunnies,
Go sledding with friends,
Attend a Meet the Masters art class
Glide across the ice on a kick sled, or 

Take a pottery class.

3:00 - 

Before the girls can go out to play the afternoon away, we all do our daily chores.  Many hands makes light work (is that how the saying goes?).

We're house sitting in the suburbs for the winter, so the girls are in neighborhood kid heaven.  If it's over 0 degrees out, I'll find them playing outside with their friends for a couple hours before dinner.

When they're outside playing, I hit the treadmill, take a shower, and read until they come home.

6:00 -

Dinner time!

7:30 -  

Read aloud time!  Right now I'm reading Ralph S. Mouse.

8:00 - 

The girls go to bed.  Bud and I spend the rest of the evening together, usually watching shows that aren't appropriate for kids :)  Some of our favorites right now are The Big Bang Theory, X Files, and Last Man On Earth.  I also tend to my other duties; household financials, menu planning, SciGirls planning, or Field Trip Friday planning.

10:00 - 

I leave for work.  I work for 4 hours in exchange for free health insurance and a small paycheck.  It's worth if for us!  I'm happy to work weird hours if it means I can stay home and homeschool my girls!