Homeschooling. Means far more than just academics

After about 3 solid days of sunshine here in Georgia. We are faced with a very dreary and wet day. I suppose after 60’s for 3 days, it was only due time for the temps to drop and us to get back to the reality of what Winter should be like.

Today was one of those days we had very little school work to do. So despite being stuck inside all day, besides a few spelling test, seat work and a dab of computer work. My boys were free to do as they pleased.

Homeschool is far more than academicsMid morning they began to get a bit antsy unable to go out, so I thought it was the perfect day to let them jump on our pillows. This is something I have allowed my children to do for years now. It is a bit messs but way easier to clean up than a floor full of legos.

So they jumped.

Laughed.

Played.

Giggled.

… and for a good while, had such fun being silly and listening to worship music in the background.

I decided as they played that I would set up my video camera and record them playing. I knew it be fun to look back on. As they played I couldn’t help but think how awesome it was that they were even home to do this.


[I’ll place the video at the end]

I have had my share of days… months… years, where I questioned our home schooling the boys.

I had many moments of non-escapable thoughts of “is this worth it?” “am I doing more harm than good?” “would I be a better mom if they were gone some…” “public school would probably do them good…” and so forth.

I battled those thoughts and more, yearly. Especially my first few years of home schooling. Especially those years I added a new child to the mix… or we moved. Or I had to adjust to my husbands horrible job hours. There are to many times to count, where I felt defeated and lonely. Days where I would be surrounded by cranky kids who didn’t want to do their school work and a tired me, who wanted nothing more than to be done with it.

Homeschooling was exhausting!

I remember resenting moms who were able to just put their kids in public school and be done with it. I envied the alone time.

It seems like in the last year or so though. I have hit a new season in home schooling.

A season of thankfulness.

Grace.

Humbling moments…

and feelings of such blessing, as I sit and watch my boys learn.

Homeschool is far more than academicsI will be the first to raise my hand and bow to the awesomeness and hard work public school teachers put in. I have many friends who are public school teachers and I know the blood, sweat and tears they pour into their jobs. They like cops are very under appreciated. I for one would never want to teach a classroom full of kids that were not my own. At least I have the authority to discipline mine. :) So those new to my blog, must know. I am never ever downing public schools on this blog and I am never ever unappreciative of the work that goes into being a public school teacher. Nor do I think less of any parent who chooses differently. Homeschooling IS NOT a fit for every family and that is completely okay and right.

… but can I just say.

Home Schooling my boys has been nothing but a blessing.

We’ve had our bumps… but compared to the good we’ve experienced, its been worth ever single trial along the way.

My initial reason to home school back in the day was because I felt I needed to as a Pastors wife. My husband believed in home schooling after he had some very bad life changing experiences in public school as a young boy… I did it, because I wanted to not only please Travis but because I truly wasn’t ready to ship off my kids to a school for a good majority of the day. Caleb was so little still to me… I just didn’t want him to go… and selfishly I knew if I homeschooled him, he’d be with me more.

As my oldest son is now 10… in the 4th grade. Growing and maturing into an amazing young man. I am realizing in a new way, the importance in our family for home schooling.

I get so tired of hearing from people downing on home schoolings…

Saying they will be unsocial.

Weird.

Nerdy.

Unable to adapt to society.

What a load of crap. :-D

My boys are amazingly social.

Bright.

Out going.

Nerdy at times :) – but who isn’t!

Well rounded.

Independent thinkers.

Homeschool is far more than academics… and they do all of it without the peer pressure daily from kids around them.

I love their desire to please their mother/father.

… rather than their peer.

I find peace in knowing they are not being exposed to pornography on the school bus or learning the latest inappropriate jokes and lingo from the lunch room.

I can find moments of Praise in being able to speak truth into my boys on what scripture teaches… and what the Bible says… without worrying about offending someone or breaking a religious rule.

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Freedom in creating our own schedule and learning as we go. May it be in our school room, on the road or with friends.

Home schooling is SO MUCH MORE than just Academics.

In 8 years. Caleb will be an adult.

18…

I will be 38 years old… (Same age as my husband is today)… and I will then send my son off to college (hopefully).

8 years.

Thats it.

I hear so often the dread of teen years… and while I am not there… but oh so close. My prayer is to break that mold too… and to enjoy my boys for all they are. In the brokeness and in the praise.

So in the moments of silly games.

Choosing to Home school?

Jumping on pillows.

Dancing.

Laughing.

Tickles and Play.

I can cherish each moment, knowing all my boys see. All my boys do… and praying for them daily, to become all that God desires them to be.

No one can tell you what to do in regards to schooling your children.

… but can I encourage you. From one tired mom to another :) – that its worth it.

Why Homeschool?


Every single moment.

Being Boys

Life as a Boy MomThere have been very few people in my life, that I have come across, who just very much dislike me and my family. I don’t say that in any way to brag… I think over all we are fairly likable people. I try to be kind and generous as much as I can with those I meet. There was a time and place in our journey moving around, that one of our neighbors from the get go was negative and cold to our family. She spoke to us maybe twice… One of those times she was asking us to move our trampoline over a foot… because it was “on her yard.” As if that foot mattered? and as if we knew (After all we had only been there a day or two…). There were not many pleasant encounters sadly and it really puzzled me as to why.

She had two children and we never saw them.

The drama surrounding this particular family is a bit in-depth but not worth really getting into much more than what I just shared. I am always hesitant to write about people who don’t know me well and I don’t know them well… I think there is wisdom in keeping our mouth shut… but I also find wisdom in speaking truth too… and talking about things I believe firmly in. So this is in no way to hate on a woman I don’t know. I truly felt for her… and I know we each have our own brokenness… and if she was still my neighbor, I would have tried to make things better… One thing I remember thinking though, when I observed this woman’s children, was that she never allowed them to play outdoors much. Maybe it was because she didn’t like us.. That very well could have been it. I remember thinking how I would have loved to have her son come out to play with our boys… and use our trampoline or play set… I think children being allowed to play outside is so important… Allowing boys to play. Create. Explore. Is so good for them.

To be boys.

Without every moment worrying about how dirty they may get or “if” they may possibly encounter a bug… or a snake.

Life to me is so much more than rules and perfectly kept children.

Life as a Boy Mom

Life as a Boy MomI wanted so badly for her to realize the freedom in just being… and enjoying the childhood we get to watch our kids live.

Yesterday,

…while my boys played happily and carefree in our creek.


Life as a Boy Mom

Getting messy.

Wet.

Life as a Boy Mom

Dirt and grit under their nails.

Exploring on their own, without me holding their hand every step of the way.

Life as a Boy Mom

I just couldn’t help but feel blessed.

Sounds crazy. In some moments like that you’d think the mom would automatically go to the “oh man… such a mess!” While there are days I can go towards that tendency… I am finding such freedom these days in letting that part of me go a bit more.

They are so much fun to watch and I love even more how “boyish” they are together as brothers…

… it blesses me greatly.

So to the mom who enjoys the monogrammed shirts (no hate, it is cute.). With cuties decked out in perfectly laced shoes, with no dirt on them. Leather jackets or name brand button ups. Let those dudes be dudes… and learn to love it. :-) There is plenty of time for perfecting a look. I don’t believe childhood should consist of perfection in the least.

From one grown up child who grew up digging into a creek with her older brother. I can honestly say my mom allowing me to explore and “be” a kid… did nothing but shape me into one cool dude mom, haha… and I am so thankful for that freedom she gave us.

Life as a Boy Mom

Avoiding the ER using Gentle Healer

How many of you try with all your might to avoid the ER? I for one do. Travis and I have relatively good insurance because of Travis’ job. Being a cop has very few perks but insurance is one of them. However, even with some insurance the cost of going to an ER is never small. Our co-pay for an ER visit alone is $100.00! Ridiculous.

This month Travis had to go to an Urgent Care after stepping on a tooth pick… yup, a tooth pick. That thing pieced into the bottom of his heel (I’ll spare you the images). It went so deep though and broke off that we could not get it out.

…and yes, I said a toothpick. We laughed about it as did the nurses. Even though, it was far from funny to experience.

During that Urgent Care visit at 8pm at night, we spent 7+ hours in a room. Where two doctors attempted to pull that tooth pick out… where they tried using an x-ray to see what was left. The x-ray couldn’t see it though because it was small fragments of wood. We then had to have a CAT SCAN of his heel… and they literally spent like 45 minutes or more digging and cutting into his heel… with countless large needle shots to numb it (ouch!). Lets just say, it didn’t look very comfortable. We didn’t make it home until 4am! It was absolutely ridiculous how long it took… I am just thankful we had a sitter for the kids.

Still. The pain of going there. Waiting. The fee we will be charged… not only for that visit but the deductible for a cat-scan and x-ray. It will not be cheap.

So that happened 2 weeks ago I guess. Well about 5 days ago on Jan 14th (I’m writing this on Monday the 19th), Reed fell. He hit the corner of my desk and split the top of his eye brow open. Lots of blood… lots of crying.

Using the Essential Oil Helichrysum Italicum to heal an open wound.As we looked over the wound we debated for a bit as to what to do. It was deep… and it was spread enough apart that a simple band aid would not have held it together. We also knew it would continue to bleed unless it was sealed some how. With Travis just a couple weeks prior having to spend all that money for his own ER visit… the thought of taking another family member in so close together wasn’t ideal. Obviously in some situations you have to go. There is a need for modern medicine at times… but in this particular situation, I felt like we had another option.

I just knew if we could “pull” that wound together some how and use Gentle Healer on it, that it would do the trick.

So I got some Butterfly Bandaids and was able to pull the boo boo shut. It was a bit of an awkward angle but we made it work. I then applied generously the Essential Oil Gentle Healer. This is a blend of two oils. Helichrysum Italicum and Foraha. Foraha is not quiet an essential oil but it has healing properties of its own. The key ingredient in this blend though is the Helichrysum Italicum. You can purchase that oil in its “NEAT” form… but my wallet just could not afford it neat. So I went with the next best thing and that is the Gentle Healer blend.

This oil has been invaluable in my home. With 4 little boys I am constantly using it to heal up skinned knees, burns, cuts, gashes, etc. It has been one of my favorite oils by far.

I hate I didn’t get progress photos of Reeds wound above healing… but let me tell you…

After just 24 hours his wound was completely closed up.

Within 48 hours there was no need for any more band aids or butterflies.

After 72 hours it was almost not even noticeable.

I took this photo on Dec 19th (just at the 5 day mark) and if you look at his right eye brow (looking at him its the left). You can see clearly how well this has healed. He has almost no scab and it is just a very clean healing sliver of a cut now.

Using Gentle Healer with Helichrysum Italicum to heal up a 2 year old facial laceration

So while this oil is not cheap… it saved us a trip to the ER this time.

It saved us the pain of waiting hours for a Doctor to glue or sew my little mans face shut.

It saved me the drama… and let me tell you, that is worth its weight in gold.

I didn’t have to sit in a germ infested ER room.

I didn’t have to pay a $100 copay.

I didn’t have to go back for a follow up with a Doctor.

Treating this at home could not have been easier and I am just so thankful to have these oils. They truly are amazing.

To end… for kicks.

Check out a photo of Taite. Taite for those new here is my now 8 year old. He is almost identical to my youngest Reed. They favor A LOT. Taite at this age hit the very same spot (opposite brow) and we took him to an ER to have it fixed. During that ER visit they had to bind my child to a bed using linens. They then squeezed his wound together in the most unpleasant manner… and proceeded to glue it shut. They then prescribed him an antibiotic to ward off infection.

I can remember vividly that same type of wound taking weeks to heal on Taite. I remember it getting really scabbed over and gross looking for days… It did not heal quickly.

Scar

So thankful for safety of these crazy boys. :)

I am honestly surprised we don’t have more ER visits. As crazy as they play together, its a wonder.

Thankful for all I am learning about Essential Oils and even more so thankful for Rocky Mountain Oils. Allowing me a place to purchase my oils at cost… with no hidden fees or memberships. All the information I have been able to pull from them any time I have a question as well has been invaluable. So if you’re curious one oil I highly recommend for moms of little ones. It hands down would be Gentle Healer. Save your pennies and get that one! I did and I don’t regret that purchase in the least.

Creek Boys

Life with four boysWe have gotten the nick name by some ;) and are referred to as “the creek boys” :)

It is a nick name I for one think our boys would wear proudly.

One of the things I was looking for when we began our search for our very first “home purchase”, was to find a home with a creek. I know that seems like such a silly thing to put on a “house hunt” list… but for me, it wasn’t. I grew up with my brother around a creek very similar. I have so many amazing memories of him and I exploring the woods.

Building forts.

Playing in the creek, skipping rocks, finding cray fish and so forth.

That creek for me at least, was a haven from the world… I have nothing but great memories from those times there.

I don’t know how long we will live in this house… but for the few years we have so far, having a creek has been nothing but awesome.

Yesterday we decided to let the boys build a small fire pit near their fort. Its within an arms reach or so of the creek, so lots of water nearby to help put out anything. We made it very small to ensure nothing got out of hand and also will only allow them to use it with supervision from our oldest Caleb or myself. It was fun to see them get so excited over a few creek rocks and bricks stacked up.


Life with four boys

Life with four boys

Life with four boys

… and can I just add how amazing Georgia weather was yesterday! Wow. I felt slightly spoiled to enjoy a 60 degree day in January. If you can’t tell one of my boys has a bathing suit on :) – since he was playing in the creek water… and Caleb my oldest doesn’t have shoes on either. It was plenty warm to go shoeless. Tomorrow is suppose to be just as pretty. I’m excited to enjoy the sunshine before more rain heads in.

Best Kindle Apps for Kids

The Amazon Kindle was one of those items that we debated on getting for some time now… All that ill get into in just a second. I wanted to write this post to show you all some of my kids favorite games for kindle that they use as well as some good apps for parents to control permissions.

This is Post #1 in my series on the best apps for kids. So for today I will show you the top Apps for Amazon Kindle according to the Wood Boys.

Little history before we get started:

List of Best Amazon Kindle Apps for KidsWe have had an iPad since 2011. Travis purchased one using our miles card points. We are big believers in no debt, but we use a credit card to buy things like gas… or groceries. By doing this building up good credit and earning some fun points or miles along the way. So our iPad 2 was completely free :) – yay! Originally that iPad was mine… but Id say about 2 years after I got it, my kids really got into playing it and my iPad as of a year or so ago became more my kids than mine. Which is ok… I guess :)

After a while of this, one thing that got old was constantly dividing usage time between 4 children.

During school hours my two younger boys would constantly interrupt me and the older two during schooling… and even though they had some toys, sometimes it was just nice to set them in front of an iPad and let them play to their hearts content. This ended up causing issues however when I would need the iPad for certain “Educational Apps” it had on it… and then Owen and Reed would have no tablet to use. Which I guess, yes, you could make do. Give them legos… or blocks.. or whatever, but you know, im all for easy distractions on hard monday mornings while im teaching history and science… and if a tablet can fix those stressful days, Praise God we have tablets :)

So for Christmas this year we splurged and purchased our older children Kindle Fires.

We got a black friday deal on them and even though I swore I would never be “that mom” who bought their kids tablets before age 12… I will say honestly, it has been the best Christmas purchase ever!

I do believe wisdom needs to be used with tablets… minimizing time spent in front of it, is smart.

Also making sure your parental settings are set well to protect your kids from questionable things is also very wise.

If you do plan to purchase your young child a tablet, be sure that your first priority is to protect them and set things up smart.

The reason we ended up going with KINDLES for the boys vs. iPads was strictly money.

The iPad I love but for an iPad mini or regular iPad Air, we just could not justify the price difference. A Kindle Fire was much more in our price range (esp with the black friday price). Also with the Kindle Fire you can set up one amazon account to use your kindles under. So all of our boys kindles are under “1” account. With this set up our boys can all share apps… so lets say you buy an app that cost $5.00 – that app and that cost will only ever have to be spent once. It works great.

So while I still prefer my iPad as far as “app choices” goes… the Kindle has been great to have and fun to learn more about.

All that being said.

The use of our boys kindles is mainly for pleasure and fun. Not educational purposes. So on this list I probably wont be listing “a ton” of educational apps. Some are… but the majority of “educational” apps I use for homeschool, are on my iPad. (that post is soon to come)

Below is a video introducing the Kindle Fire. I attempted to show the use of some of the “PARENTAL” Apps… but my lack of video savy know how failed me… and the video is super washed out during the “close up” use of the kindle on screen. Still, figured I would post it since I took the time to film it. Hopefully even without the best visual quality you can make out what I was trying to explain. Enjoy! I hope the list of apps below is helpful.



List of Amazon Kindle Apps for Kids

 



Best Kindle Apps for Kids (full list)

Educational:




Endless Alphabet Amazon Kindle AppEndless Alphabet ($2.99) – This app is wonderful. Probably one of my favorite educational apps. My youngest who is 2 years old has learned how to match the letters and their sounds using this app, even at his young age. My older kids, as old as 10 love this app as well. The videos it has with each word are adorable and fun to watch.




Interactive Telling TimeInteractive Telling Time (Free) – Great simple app for teaching a child how to tell time. We used this in line with our home schooling. Gave my kids something a little bit different than traditional work sheets to do.




Scribblenauts RemixScribblenauts Remix (Free) – This is not only an educational app that teaches children to learn to spell, solve problems and so forth, it is also so much fun! My boys LOVE THIS app and will spend forever on it creating new things using words. A must for sure.




Learn Piano AppLearn Piano (Free) – If your kid is into music they’ll love this app. My son Taite is our musically interested child :) – and while none of our kids have had musical lessons of any kind, this app gives him a little glimpse as to what can be created using a few keys. One day we hope to enroll them in some musical classes.




Brain Pop Featured MovieBrain Pop Featured Movie (Free) – Great app a lot of schools use to teach the kids about science, history and more. There is even a Brain Pop Jr. available.




Bible for KidsBible for Kids (Free) – A great bible app for children. Interactive and full of classic Bible Stories.




PBS Kids Video
PBS Kids Video (Free) – I am going to include this one in the educational… even though it is borderline just fun entertainment. For all those whos kiddos love PBS TV shows, they’ll really enjoy this app. Its a safe place for kids to enjoy their favorite PBS shows and episodes.



Functional APPS (for parent use):




Kids Place App to set timer on kids kindle
Kids Place (Free) – This is the APP I mention in the video I posted onto this post. We use this at night to limit our children’s use on the kindles. Its free and works great.




Blue Light Filter
Blue Light Filter (Free) – One thing that they say can hinder a persons rest is if they use devices that have blue light in them. This is an APP that filters that blue light out. It works very well at night. I use it any time we “allow” the kids “night time” kindle use. It works well teamed with the above app too.



Game Apps For TOTS and up:




Buzz Me Kid Phone App
Buzz Me (FREE) – This is one of Reed’s favorite APPS. It is like a pretend phone but also has some fun interactive games in the app as well. Reed is always wanting to call people using my iPhone, so this is a great one to download to your cell phones too :)




Toca Boca Kitchen
Toca Kitchen ($2.99) – Let me go ahead and say that the Toca Boca APPS are all great. We have almost all of them. I have never been disappointed with one yet. So while they usually are not free, they are worth the few dollars you pay. This one is probably a favorite – but really, they are all great.




Toca Boca Train
Toca Train ($2.99) – Again great app for young kids especially. We use this one a lot with Reed who is just over 2. Especially great even without sound. Which some apps aren’t good without sound, this one is good with or without.




Toca Boca Boo
Toca Boo ($2.99) – I will admit, this one has me puzzled as to why the kids like it so much… but they use it constantly. You would think after a while it get old but we’ve had this one for many many months now (even before we got the kindles – they used it on the iPad) and they love it.




Toca Boca Hair Salon
Toca Hair Salon ($2.99) – Even though we have boys, our boys still love this app. I even like playing it :) – it would be especially entertaining for little girls who love all things hair. Really cute!




Lego Juniors Create
Lego Juniors Create (Free) – Any Lego game here is almost always a hit. This one is probably one of the best we’ve found. Works very well and is easy enough for even our youngest (age 2) to play without help.




Sago Mini Ocean SwimmerSago Mini Ocean Swimmer (Free) – Great interactive App for all ages. Our youngest enjoys this a lot but my older boys do as well – I would say as old as 8 would enjoy this app.



Older Kid APPS Ages 4+




Amazing Alex FreeAmazing Alex Free (Free) – Great app for teaching kids to be creative and solve problems. This one can be a little harder and I would say its best for ages 7+ – although younger kids can play it, it just may be a bit harder for them.




TarrariaTarraria ($4.99/although sometimes free) – We got this particular APP Free. I saw it listed on amazon one day while browsing and decided to download it for the boys. Because it was free it was a no brainer. It looked similar to minecraft… so I figured they would like it. I was right, total hit with the dudes :) – they love this app! (Note: Those who are against swords, light violence, may not like this app)




Minecraft Pocket EditionMinecraft ($6.99) – Anyone with boys or kids really who has not yet discovered minecraft… a bit of warning. If you download this for your kids, plan for them to become obsessed with it. My boys love this app and its probably what consumes 80% of their Kindle use. I have even enjoyed playing it with them. As long as you have wifi your children can interact and play with each other. So it can be a lot of fun.




Where's my Water?Where’s my Water? (Free) – This APP is addicting to play. Fun and encourages problem solving. I do believe there is an upgraded version that does cost a dollar or two… but to try it out, its totally free. My husband even enjoys this one.




Kiwi WonderlandKiwi Wonderland (Free) – Probably one of the “cutest background music” games we have. I love listening to the music that plays in this. Its fun to play and even adults will enjoy this one.




LepsworldLepsworld (Free) – I found this game while searching “Mario” – it is super similar to the classic Mario Brothers Game. Instead of Mario you play a little Leprechaun named Lep. Has lots of levels and gets challenging as you go. Lots of fun for all ages.




CrocsworldCrocsworld – This one is similar to Lep’s World. Only difference is its a cute lil crocodile. My 4 and 8 year old enjoy this one. My oldest who is 10 prefers Lep’s World.




Doodle JumpDoodle Jump (.99cent) – This is one of those addicting ones that will drive you nuts :) – but is fun. My husband plays this probably more than the boys. Him and my 8 year old have a competition often on who can beat whos score. Its a lot of fun and pretty simple to learn to play.




Subway SurferSubway Surfer (Free) – This one is similar to the popular Temple Run Game. Instead of a guy running from scary monkey’s though, its a kid who apparently is in trouble and running from the cops. Yea… probably not the best influence as far as that goes haha.. DO NOT RUN FROM COPS :) – thats a no no, but the game is a lot of fun to play and my boys enjoy it.




CheckersCheckers (Free) – A classic! Who doesn’t enjoy a good game of checkers? Our boys play against each other on this and its a nice quiet app they can play without much bickering :)



That concludes my list of Kindle Apps :) – there are TONS out there to choose from… and I am sure our list will grow each passing month… but these are just a few we have enjoyed for some time, even before we had Kindles. Most of the above are also available on the iPad.

I do plan to do a “Favorite iPad” post very soon too! One post at a time :) – Be sure to follow me on facebook or Instagram, so you know when the iPad post is live.