Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What to do with all the school stuff...

Last year I attended a homeschool conference in Omaha called Teach Them Diligently. It was a great conference and I learned quiet a bit. I truly think they should rename it to be Teach ME diligently...because really they are teaching me how to better teach my kiddos.

One of the workshops I attended was on notebooking. This was a new concept to me...and I had a major duh moment while listening. The presentor presented many things that she does with her kids and how they put their daily projects in a notebook. At the end of the year, sometimes I have that thought....what the heck did we do all year...this was a great solution! We can notebook like she did and reminisce about what we learned.

This school year we have done just that! Notebooking! I bought my three oldest kiddos 3-ring binders and we filled them with empty page protectors. Each time they complete something new like a picture, diagram, etc I have them put it in their notebook. Problem solved...every piece of important paper now has a home!

Any family can do the same thing...whether you homeschool or your kids are in a public school setting!

I plan on doing this every year until they graduate from high school. It will be a lot of binders, but I think it will be well worth it in then end.

Here are a few things that we have put in our notebooks!




Poor Weston

Poor Weston just has a little folder of his works of art. I need to buy him a binder though!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday Randoms...

Is anyone else really, really excited that we have had at least a few consecutive days where the kiddos could play outside?!  I am really hoping this streak continues!  The grass is turning green, the buds are sprouting on the trees and plants, my nose is running non-stop!  Yay!

My kids love playing outside.  We have nothing fun in our backyard yet.  We are hoping to put a swingset up sometime before the kids get too old.  So instead they have to use their imagination and come up with fun games to play like hanging their jackets in our trees...because you know we need flags in our backyard.   Our three year olds imagination includes drawing with chalk all over the house, our cars, boats, and himself.  Lovliness.

We have definitely added a bit of craziness and loudness to the neighborhood.  I was a block over last night doing sprints on a bike path and the entire time, I could hear our kids very clearly screaming in the backyard.  A good screaming, but good grief, I kind of feel bad for our neighbors. 


Everyone is coming out of hibernation, so that is nice.  Yesterday afternoon a neighbor a street over had a backyard get together.  The kids were invited, so it was nice to finally meet some more people from the neighborhood. 

Everyone knows where we live.  It could be because of our noisy kids...or that everyone really liked the people that lived here before and miss them dearly.  It is probably both.  Apparently everyone and their brother knew the former owners of our house.  One of these days we will make a name for ourselves and it will become the McGee house.

12 days and counting until my half marathon!!  I am super excited and as always, I hope I make it alive to the finish line.  My goal is to shave at the minimum 10 minutes off of my last years time. Ideally I would like to shave 13 minutes which means I ran a full minute faster per mile this year.  I am running the race with a friend this year, so hopefully she can keep me going....or I can keep her going.  Not sure which yet.


I have been battling kidney stones these past few weeks.  I am just going to choose to ignore them for the time being.  Everyone has given me all sorts of remedies and how I can help them pass more quickly.  Drinking water...and lots of it, is what I am choosing to do.   I have tried drinking a little lemon water as well.  I have one lodged right now somewhere that I swear I can feel at times.  I am hoping my running will unlodge it.  I see a urologist after my half marathon to see if anything needs to be done.  I guess both of my kidneys have several. 


We made it through another "holiday" weekend.  We don't really celebrate Easter or do the Easter bunny or anything.  We did take the kids to a egg hunt at the church they go to on Wednesday nights.  I was thinking they would say ok...get five eggs and call it good.  Well apparently it is a free for all and I believe my kids came home with approximately 1,000 pieces of candy.  Not fun.

It still boggles my mind why a church would have an egg hunt.  What does eggs have to do with Jesus Christ dying on the cross for our sins and the rising again?  Not sure.  I think the message that is shared around the Easter holiday is extremely important.  A lot of the facts get a bit screwy and the timeline is off a bit in most stories and when days line up...but what the Bible says about Christs death, burial, and resurrection is extremely important.  I just don't get why we have to remember it on one specific weekend and the weeks leading up to this specific weekend?  Why can't we remember it every day....because of the extreme importance of the message?  Next week...I will still have a Savior who died for me...for my sins.  I did nothing.  He did it all.  He rose again on the third day.  All for me.  I did nothing...except for believing that he did all this...for me. In return I will have eternal life.
Our munchkins after church
Me and my love!  Can you believe we will be married 10 years this June?!
The kiddos with my mom!  Love her!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Six months and counting!

On Friday, it marked 6 months of us closing on our house here in Grand Island. In some ways it seems like a long, long time ago. In other ways it seems like just yesterday.

Moving is always a scary thing. Our last big move was over eight years ago from Omaha to outside of Lincoln. It wasn't the end of the world. One hour from church and where I have grown up my entire life (except for during college). We just had 6 month old Jocelyn at the time, so she didn't have any "real" friends yet. It took Jocelyn and I quiet a while to make a single friend.

I started her in Kindermusik. That was fun, but hard to really get to know and talk to people when you are focusing on your child in class. A year and a half went by since our move and I still didn't have any new friends to speak of. Katelyn was born during that time and I guess you could say I was in "desperation mode". There has got to be at least one person that I would be able to connect with...that I could be friends with. We joined MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and the rest was history. That is where 90% of my local Lincoln friends were from. Not sure how I would have made it the rest of the years at our old stomping grounds without them.

Once some of my MOPS friend's kiddos moved onto public school it became harder and harder to connect since most of our running around with friends is during the day. I then started a homeschool friends meet-up group in the Spring of 2012. We made so many new homeschool friends from this group and had so much fun on our monthly field trips.

When my husband accepted the job to move here, I was a bit nervous. The kids were as well. Were we going to go another year without making friends? Everyone that I came across, did not have very good things to say about Grand Island. I didn't know how the kids would handle it and how would I handle starting all over...with now four kids in tow. I assured my girls especially that we would do our best to make friends, but it might be a while, so let's just pray about it.

Well I guess I was wrong. Before we moved, we started attending things closer to our new home. We went to homeschool Science classes and started our co-op. I also attended a few homeschool mom's meetings. I reconnected with a friend who used to be in my old MOPS group that moved to a nearby town. I could already tell that everything was going to be o.k.

The kids and I have made quiet a few new friends. It has definetly made this transistion extremely easy when you have a people that you can call. Friends that you can get together with. People to go and do things with. Sean has friends that he can hunting, shooting, and fishing with.

It doesn't matter what a town has to offer, it matters who you surround yourself with. Yes there is quiet a bit to keep the kids and I busy with 30 minutes from here, however without our new friends, the transition would have been a bit more difficult. It feels like home.

We still get many of the same questions since we moved such as:

Oh my goodness you still drive to Omaha for church? Yes, 2 hours and 15 minutes each way makes for a long drive. I agree. It is our entire day. We leave at 7AM and get home around 4pm or so. We have realized it is difficult to make the trip every weekend, but we try our best to go when we can. We never regret when we go, it just isn't going to be possible every weekend.

Do you like it here? you can probably tell from my blog post, I do really like it here. I love living close to stores. If I need to run really quick to a friends house, I can. Sean works 1 mile away, so it is easy for him to come home during lunch when he can.

There is so much to do here...lots of museums and fun indoor pools. I can not wait until the summer so we can check out the surrounding communities waterparks. There is also the Stuhr Museum and the State Fair that we are all looking forward to!



Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring Co-op 2014!

On Thursday was our last day of Spring Co-op! The kids and I all look forward to Thursday's because we see our friends and have so much fun learning new things. The kids are not the only one learning new things...I do too since I have to teach a class.

On Friday night we had our co-op program. The kids were able to present what they have learned this spring to everyone in attendance. My parents came out for the night and so did my hubs.

The kiddos with my mom before the program

Our kids were seperated into three different groups this semester, instead of just two last semester.

Waiting for the program to begin!

Jocelyn took a recorder class. She learned six different songs. I was surprised at how fast she caught on. She also took a states & capitals class. I was never required to learn my capitals growing of course I never did. So while we practiced at home, I learned them right along with her.

The boys, Easton and Weston, were in a preschool class. They focused on the book Ping and did several fun activities related to the book. They were also in an explorers class were they did many artsy type activities.

The boys grew grass!

Katelyn was in an American Girl class for both sessions. I taught the second hour of her class. She learned about what life would be like for a girl living as far back as 1774-World War 2. This class was so much fun! We made home made butter and ice cream. We also tried to do a craft each week.

Katelyn with the homemade butter in a jar!
We taught them how to sew by hand!
The girls with their homemade ice cream!
Kate enjoying her shortbread cookie and ice cream!

Below are videos from the program! (For those with a lot of free time on their hands.)

Can't wait for the fall session to start!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cranes, cranes...everywhere!

I have learned a lot of new things about the state of Nebraska since moving to Grand Island. One thing that is huge this time of year is the Sandhill crane migration. Honestly, I am not a bird person and probably would not have been able to identify this bird to save my life, but oh my...what a fascinating bird....and guess what? We live along the 80 mile stretch where the sandhill cranes stop on their way northward. If you drive just 5 minutes south of here you will start to see fields full of these cranes. Drive 5 minutes further to get to the Platte River and they are everywhere.

We went on a field trip with a few other local homeschool families to the Rowe Sandhills Crane sanctuary in Gibbon, Nebraska. It is about 40 minutes west of Grand Island. These people take the crane migration pretty seriously. You can even watch a live web cam 24 hours a day!

They keep track of who visits this center...and every year people from all over the world visit. They have had visitors from all 50 states this year, except for Delaware!

You can pay $25.00 per person to come at 6am or 6pm and watch thousands of cranes migrate to this very area. I guess it is a site like none other...and not recommended for kids because of the wait outside in the cold....and the need to be quiet.

Our field trip was free however and we learned so much about this crane.

Some fun facts that I didn't know was that their wing span could be as long as 6 feet!

The crane can weigh up to 30 lbs.

They sleep standing up with one foot cold water...all night long. Brrr!

They are hunted in different states...but not here.

They do not hang out in trees because their back claw can not grip a tree branch like owls.

They migrate to Texas during the winter...they stop here for 3-4 weeks. When they head up North during the summer, they only do so to lay two eggs. Both parents will incubate. If you see a group of 3-4 cranes flying is most likely a mom, dad, and their two kids. So sweet!

As many as 80,000 cranes stop over each night at this sanctuary.

If you are quiet and listen to their is an awesome thing!

So if you are ever in our neck of the woods during March and early can not miss watching a field of cranes for a few minutes!

Here are a few pictures from our field trip!

Because we were not their during the "prime time" we were only able to see live cranes up close on the side of the road. Bummer!

Weston trying to spot a crane!
The kids were feeling the water of the Platte River to see how cold the water was!
Up to 6 feet wide wingspan!
Visitors from all over the world!
Mini paper cranes!
Picture from internet-- source unknown




Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Ag day 2014!

We live in a state where the agriculture industry is big business. Our homeschool group was invited to attend the Ag day at a local events center so we jumped on this opportunity. The event is typically for 4th graders, however they accept homeschoolers of any age to attend.

Our kids have never lived on a farm. The only exposure they have had is when we go down to Missouri and visit family. So hopefully they learned a bit more about what our family does down south and what local farmers do.

They learned about how to care for a horse and how to rope.

We saw a demonstration on how to take a horse shoe on and off...and how to trim a horses nails.

We watched a sheep get shaved and learned why they do this.

We learned about different animals including dairy and beef cattle, pigs, goats, and sheep.

We learned about chicken eggs.

We learned about different critters!

We learned about what products contain beef. Did you know that things such as glue and deoderant...contains beef by products? Who knew?

We learned about looming!

We learned what you can do with corn...besides eat it!

Such a fun afternoon learning new things!!