Pushin’ It

Some people might see what A and I do for our school time and think that maybe I’m pushing her.  We do a lot and a lot of it is sit down, book work.  This is what A likes and requests.  If we go on a walk and I tell her about the nature and environment around us, she doesn’t see that as school.  If we do a worksheet about the same stuff…that’s school to A.  We do both but she requests what she views as school and I’m happy to accommodate her.  I am not standing over her with a ruler forcing her to work in hopes that she will be the next child genius (although she is very smart, girl has potential!).

In the homeschool world, I am seeing “unschooling” come up a lot (I haven’t been in the HS world very long but it seems to be an increasing trend/method.).  Compared to that, our workbooks, worksheets, and flashcards might seem like overkill for a 4 year old.  I do not personally think that SCHOOL must be done at a desk with a #2 pencil.  But if that is how my kid learns, I’m pleased as punch to sharpen that pencil.  The thing that is important to me, is that I’m fostering a love of learning in my children and that they always explore the world around them.  Right now, how we do school is dictated by A and her personality. In another year, we will see how K learns best and change things up to accommodate her learning style as well.

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The workbook she is using here is Brain Games-Kindergarten.  My biggest complaint about it is that the answers are on the direct opposite page.  She cant turn the pages herself or she’ll see the answers before she has a chance to answer herself.  So far, A hasn’t been introduced to any new concepts but this workbook is definitely keeping her skills sharp.  When she gets towards the end of the book, there are some money (coin) and directional (East-West) concepts that will be new for her. This is great to keep kids thinking during school breaks or as a homeschool workbook!

First Day

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Look how big my girl is!! It is always so crazy to me to see how much she has grown and changed.  These pictures, of course, show her physical growth and how her face has changed but they also her personality and sass!

Her first two weeks of school have been okay. She cries at drop off but is done crying by the time I pull out of the parking lot.  And at the end of the day, she always reports that she had a great day and did lots of fun things.  Educationally, I am waiting for her to be challenged but I am trying to be patient and give the teachers time to establish baselines for all of the students.

Still crossing out fingers that this turns out however is in her best interest!

Life is sweet

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Today was too hot to go outside so we made a canvas for the kitchen! A chose a cupcake…i did a pencil drawing on the canvas for her and she painted it herself. I added the words, which are admittedly,  not that great. But A did an awesome job and she was so excited when i took down store-bought art to hang hers in its place!!

Life IS sweet!!!

Making crayons

We recently cleaned up our art and coloring station which meant getting rid of all the itty bitty broken crayon pieces. We decided to melt those pieces down to make new crayons…we’ve done it before and its always a big hit.  Seeing as how we live on the face of the sun, this project went really quickly! We set the crayon cupcakes out and they were thoroughly melted within 20 minutes. Cooling and hardening did take a bit longer but we sped up the process by putting them in the freezer.  It was a quick and easy project that the girls loved!

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Difference of Opinions

What do you do when there is a difference of opinion in your own household?  About really big issues?

We had preschool orientation for A today.  If you recall, we are testing out public school (which is actually a private, Christian preschool) just as we tested the homeschool waters to see which is for us and our family.  Anyway, A spoke with the teachers and after a few minutes, left my side to play with the toys and other kids….this is great for A as she typically she sticks pretty close to mom in unfamiliar situations. And she already had a crying session last week just thinking about going to school without mom….

At orientation, the teachers were talking about how the class will learn a letter a day, they will learn numbers 1-10, how to write their names, use scissors properly, etc.  These are great goals and I am not knocking them but A already knows all of that. These are the goals for the END of the year.  A might get the social and independent aspects that we are looking for but I think we will be doing her a huge disservice by not challenging her intellectually and academically.

Dad really thinks A needs this to gain more independence from mom.  Not necessarily social skills as she does great at dance class and play groups.  He also thinks she would really blossom in school because she is so focused and pays such close attention.  I don’t disagree but I don’t think public school is the only way for her to get those things.  I just feel like we could be really successful at homeschooling.  I see more and more benefits to it but dad isn’t convinced.  He’s not against it, he’s just a little stuck in the “we went to public school, kids turn 5 and go to school, it’s just what you do” camp of thinking.  I’m honestly a little confused because last year, he was SOOOO for me homeschooling preschool (and we had a great, successful year!) and now suddenly, he’s back on the public school train.  To be totally honest, he would not fight me if I said I was homeschooling…he would let me do it.  If we disagree on things, he generally defaults to me on parenting decisions because he knows I do more research, I am with the kids the most, and he knows that I am always thinking of the kids’ best interests.  So even though I know that I could get my way on this, I feel it is more important to be sure we are making the correct decision for the whole family.  I don’t want to bully him into homeschooling and then feel like he is judging what A is learning, IF A is learning, our schedule, etc.

I agreed to this trial and I am committed to giving it a shot but then we’ll sit down and have a good long debate if we are still on opposite sides of the schoolyard fence.  My hope is that we are able to give this a fair shot and go from there.  My true hope is that we do decide homeschooling is for us.  But if we don’t?  That’s okay too as long as we all feel that public/private/charter school is the best thing for A and our family.

Bryce Zion Campground

For our trips to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, we decided to stay at the Bryce Zion Campground.  Since we didn’t pack all of our camping gear, we reserved one of their Kozy Kamping Kabins.  The Kabin was a super cute log cabin with a double bed and twin bunk beds.  Keep in mind, this is in place of a tent and not much bigger than one.  Actually, our family tent is bigger than the cabin but this was for convenience.  The cabins do not have anything besides the beds and a tiny desk and chair.  Outside, there is a small bench and porch at each cabin, a grill, a firepit, and a picnic table.  We did bring some of our essential camp cooking supplies as we were planning on camp cooking for this portion of the trip. There is a communal camp bathroom with showers which was always very clean.  The property had horses that are usually used for trail rides.  There was a sign saying rides were temporarily suspended but the horses were fun to watch and pet anyway.  They had ice and firewood for sale and a small convenience mart with some food and toiletries.

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The biggest NEGATIVE to staying here…they never told us that we were supposed to supply our own bedding.  We’ve never stayed in the cabins before so we didn’t know.  I called the day of check in, as we were driving between parks, to see what time we could check in.  They informed me at that point that we supplied the bedding.  There was nowhere for us to buy bedding without going 50+ miles out of our way.  They ended up having a bedding set for the double bed that we could rent.  Luckily, we had Poppy (dad’s dad) with us and we were able to forage enough blankets out of his truck for the girls’ bedding.  Providing our own bedding was not an issue but we needed to know that was the deal!  I have since checked their website and our confirmation emails and it doesn’t state that anywhere…so if you ever stay somewhere like this, be sure to double check!

But overall, we really like the location and the cabin was a great place to stay if you want the camping experience without hauling the tent out.

Capitol Reef National Park

The first stop on our National Park road trip from SLC back to home in AZ was Capitol Reef.  We knew this was one of the smaller of Utah’s Mighty 5 but we were excited to cross another park off the list.  Although we are normally camping people, we knew it wasn’t going to be feasible since this was at the end of a month long vacation.  Packing our camping gear in addition to our regular vacation clothes and gear was just too much.  So we found Capitol Reef Resort, which has been recently renovated.  I wasn’t sure what to expect because the reviews were mixed but it was so worth it!!  We had a room in the back with red rock views.  The view was incredible.  There was a cow pasture right outside our room too and of course, the girls loved that!!  Dad and I were enthralled with the view while the girls could have watched the cows for hours.

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During our day at Capitol Reef, we:

*hiked the Fremont River Trail.  The trail started out kind of slow.  We could hear the river but not see it and the trail took us right through a campground.  I was not impressed and wondering who picked this hike (because surely if it was me, dad wasn’t going to let me live it down!).  But then it opened up. And boy did it!  There was a good bit of an incline, great sweeping views.  It ended being about 1.5 miles roundtrip and the 4.5 year old managed it like a champ….just a bit of stumbling on the way down due to loose rocks and tired legs but she made it in one piece!

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*ate ice cream and pie at the Gifford House. Ice Cream was the treat after completing our hike and we tried all 3 flavors.  Strawberry was the best!  If you want to try the pie, buy it early!  We were there first thing in the morning and the cases were full of cinnamon rolls and all flavors of pies!  We only grabbed coffee during that visit.  We went back in the early evening to grab pie before going to the hotel.  There was still pie left but at that point, you get what you get and you don’t complain.  There were maybe 5 pies total, we got an apple.  We actually ended up eating the pie for breakfast the next morning…in the truck, on the way to our next stop.  Pie isn’t very good car food.  But the pie itself was delicious!  Great flaky crust, sweet apple filling, and crumbles on top.  But we recommend eating it while stationary.

*went to a Jr Ranger program at the Nature Center. As a requirement for getting her Jr. Ranger badge, A has to go to one ranger led program.  We were luckily enough to have a kids program that fit perfectly into our schedule.  We went to one about the Capitol Reef Ecosystem, held by Cinamin at the Ripple Creek Nature Center.  The program was interactive and informative, A really got into it and afterwards, kept referencing back to things she learned there.  The Nature Center itself was really fun too and had a ton of hands on stuff for the kids to do.

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*drove the scenic drive.  This was our naptime activity.  While the girls napped, mom and dad ooh’ed and aah’ed over the scenery.  It was truly spectacular.  I am in constant awe of the world around us.  We recommend (if you have a high clearance, 4 wheel drive) taking any and all off-roads that you come across.  We were there after some big storms so there were a few of the dirt roads that were still closed but we went down most and found some awesome spots.

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We had a great visit at Capitol Reef and if you are ever in the area, DO NOT PASS it up!!  The only thing I was looking forward to but unable to do was picking fruit in the orchards.  Unfortunately, we happened to be there on an off day when there was no ripe fruit to be picked.  I guess that just means we’ll have to make another trip 🙂