Horseshoe Bend

Good Bye 2013: Our Year in Review

Happy New Year!

It has been an absolutely exciting year for us, full of drastic changes and amazing adventures and opportunities. Here’s how our year went, with plenty of photos to prove how amazing it was!

January

We began the year on the road (how appropriate for us). We had just visited family for Christmas and began the long journey back from Wisconsin just before the New Year. We started the 2013 in Utah, then arrived home to Arizona by evening.

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Driving through the desert to Monument Valley

January wrapped up pretty uneventful with a little snow and rain but decent temps.

February

February was a quick month. We have always tried to explore our area and especially since I work at a resort, it’s important to become knowledgeable about the area in order to recommend things for the tourists to do. (Makes me sound smart when they ask me.)  This month we drove down to Camp Verde and visited Montezuma’s Castle and Montezuma’s Well, Native-American ruins. Some of the coolest ruins I’ve seen. It’s almost as if they built the first  high-rise apartment of their day.

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the boys at Montezuma’s Castle
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close up of the ruins

March

March was a busy month for us. Mason took a field trip with his school to the Grand Canyon. What a field trip, huh? We went to a public museum when we were little. THIS is why I love living out West. These kids get to experience and live so much history here.

And-we’re right next to California!

I began planning a trip to California as soon as I moved to Arizona. I had been to California before but wanted to show my boys. We’re only a few hours from the coast so why not, I figured? This trip wasn’t exactly as well-thought out and planned as I would have liked but we did see some really cool things. The problem was I wanted to see ALL THE THINGS. You just can’t do that in California with a few days. I don’t think a lifetime of exploring in California would be enough.

We began in Vegas. My mother-in-law and her fiance flew into Phoenix and spent a day with us in Sedona and we followed them out to Vegas a few days later. We met up at a resort and did some sight-seeing and eating and eventually drove to a friends house in Paso Robles, CA.

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Jackson was pretty excited to meet Bumblebee
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..but was a little shy to stand with Buzz and Woody
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Mandalay Bay
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My favorite, the fountains at Bellagio

We drove around California–a lot. Most of our time there was spent on the road. We saw wine country in Paso Robles, drove over a mountain on a dirt road and descended onto the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Still–one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. We drove up the 101 to Big Sur, saw condors and watched for whales and seals and then to Monterey where we spent the night with a fireplace in our room. On the way home, we stopped at Pismo Beach, where the boys were excited to drive on the beach and drove through Santa Barbara, Pasadena, and Northern L.A. on to Joshua Tree National Park before heading home.

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view off the 101, California
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A California Condor
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A redwood tree near Big Sur
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Big Sur, Baby!
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Skull Rock in Joshua Tree National Park, California
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Mason, under the arms of the Joshua Tree

April

In April, flowers were blooming everywhere in the neighborhood and the days were warming up nicely. Thanks to the kind folks at Out of Africa Wildlife Park, they comp’d us a couple of tickets and we took a trip down to Camp Verde. You can read all about our trip here.

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the boys and their new giraffe friend

May

May brought even more flowers and sunny summer days. We spent a big portion of the month fishing, playing, and lounging by the creek. More kids moved into the neighborhood too, which made the boys very happy. They came equipped with a trampoline. The boys became very close friends to their neighbors, very quickly.

Mason also was happy to have wrapped up his fourth grade year at West Sedona Elementary. We began thinking of homeschooling and making some big changes for next school year though.IMG_1799 IMG_1809

I’m very fortunate to work at a resort and receive the benefits I do from local businesses. One of those local businesses, Blazin’ M Ranch, offered my family free tickets to their Chuckwagon dinner and variety show. We all had a blast and our cheeks hurt by the end of the night. We took old fashioned photos, we each took a turn shooting a Colt-45, ate a fabulous chicken and bbq rib dinner, and watched a highly entertaining show with comedy, music, and ghost riders. It was one of the best nights we’ve had out as a family.

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My cowboys and I
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The handsome-est dudes in the West

June

I bought a BMW convertible in June!!

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And my husband and I celebrated our 7th Anniversary and really had the best time. He arranged for a limo to take us to dinner and then we spent the night at the resort I work for, in a house with a hot tub outside. Jackson joined us after dinner and we had a blast!

our 7th anniversary

Later in the month, Pink Jeep offered me a free tour and threw a party for their concierges. I did the Broken Arrow tour before ending the night with delicious hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and live music.

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my town

July

July was HOT! It was all a sweaty, hot blur. There were swim lessons for the boys…

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…A trip to Colorado and some jeeping in the mountains above Ouray…

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And a celebration and photographer gig for moi, as our two friends Dawn and Kristy took the plunge…literally.

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Somewhere in there, I celebrated my 32nd birthday.

August

August was hot and the days were sticky as the monsoon rains came.  The swamp cooler did little to provide comfort. To beat the heat, we decided to take another road trip adventure. This time, through the desert to Page, Arizona where I took a photographer’s tour of Antelope Canyon. The boys and I hiked to Horseshoe Bend, and we visited Glen Canyon Dam as well.

This turned out to be our last road trip of the year and our last trip together as the four of us. From now on, it’s my boys and I on our adventures. For a while, at least. Becoming a single mother this month was the beginning of a new set of challenges in life but doors of possibilities flung wide open so I could believe and hope in our new future.

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Antelope Canyon
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Horseshoe Bend

Some great photography was made too.

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A new dynamic and family photo

September

September was a new beginning for us. We tried our best to work out the kinks of a single-parent family and trudged on with our lives, while beginning our home school phase. We dove in head first and began creating a schedule that worked for us. We seem to all really enjoy it.

Monsoon season was especially wet this year, which made the creeks rise more than usual, which meant less creek time for us. Excellent fishing for our Blue Heron friend though.

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We celebrated Jackson’s 5th birthday in September with a super hero birthday party. I made super foods and a super hero backdrop photo booth. Our neighbors and friends came and made it a great time with live music and even fire dancing. We have the most unique neighborhood full of amazing talent, by the way.

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Another perk of the job, a free helicopter ride over Sedona from our friends at Sedona Helicopter Tours. Absolutely, hands-down, the BEST way to see Sedona. I took my little man for his special birthday treat. I’m not sure who was more excited though. That was the most excited I’ve ever been at 8 am. No question.

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Co-pilot Jackson in the helicopter
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Amazing views!

We spent the rest of our summer days doing things in the community to keep busy. We went to our first annual Verde River Days where the boys dug for treasures in the sand, climbed a rock wall, and the big one tried out his hand at kayaking–solo. He loved it and looked like a real natural. He’s done this before though. When we lived on Lake Vallecito, our friends would take him kayaking and he loved it then.

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October

In October, we celebrated another birthday. The big one turned 11. Seriously. Someone tell me where years 1-10 went please. Oh! Right there in the photo album. :)

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For Mason’s birthday treat, he really wanted to do the ropes course up in the trees in Flagstaff. So we took his neighborhood friend and they had a blast racing through the course. Smiles to prove it.

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We ended the month with Halloween and a very lucky streak, as we won the “Guess the weight of the Biggest Pumpkin” contest at our local grocery store. I guessed the weight right on the dot and won in a tie-breaker. I carved my first ever Halloween pumpkin scene and later took the boys trick or treating around town. We had a great night!

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My first ever carved pumpkin that wasn’t triangles for the eyes and mouth, rather a haunted house scene. Spooky.
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A zombie and a Spiderman, of course. Zombie’s makeup was a blast to do!

Jackson also took up skateboarding this month with a new birthday present and we began to become regulars at the Sedona Skate Park.

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November

November was a tough month, spiritually, as I lost my grandmother and struggled with my marriage even more. It was a month of dramatic change in myself and becoming who I am meant to be, without reservation or apology. This was my biggest month of growth as I struggled to deal with my own grief in more situations than one. My grandmother taught me to believe and hope and to always do what makes me happy. So I will. In her honor.

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Taken Christmas 2012. Very grateful to have spent time with her then.

We visited relatives in Wisconsin for a few days while we celebrated my grandmother’s 97 blessed years. It was a wonderful visit with a whole bunch of emotions but I am so grateful to have had the time with my family, my sisters and brothers, nieces and nephew, my parents, my cousins, and my aunts and uncles. Unfortunately, we had to get home before Thanksgiving, which saddened us all. It took a few days to get back into routine but we did and we had a fabulous Thanksgiving meal, just the three of us, in our Sedona home.

One more to go..

Bring on December!

December was a great month. Only a touch of snow in the beginning and 60 degrees and sun on Christmas Day. A little weird for us Northerners, but we’ll take it.

We had our first ever group field trip with members of the Sedona R.O.C.K’s Homeschool group. Our new friends at the Chocolatree allowed us to hang out in the chocolate room making deliciously sinful organic chocolate treats.

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That’s 80% cacao in the little one’s mouth. Yeah, he didn’t sleep for days. ;-)

It’s been a joyous and blessed year and December proved that to be true. Christmas miracles happened left and right for the boys and I and the boys declared this Christmas to be their “BEST. CHRISTMAS. EVER.”

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Looking back on our year, it’s been pretty darn fantastic, despite the drama in my marriage and losing one of my world’s greatest ladies, my grandmother. We are so blessed to have the opportunities we do out here and the love of our neighbors and friends, more like family, around us. This year has shown us some incredibly difficult lessons but it’s also changed the way we do and feel things. And you know what they say: Change is good.

As we close the door on 2013 forever, we take with us the courage, the hope, the belief, and the perseverance that 2013 created in us and use it to make our dreams happen in 2014.

I believe.

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After the Halloween Hangover

I could feel last week that something was really off in my body. After Halloween, I noticed three solid days of hangover-like symptoms. Headaches, tiredness, irritability, sugar cravings.

It’s my own fault. I raided some of the boys Halloween candy for the chocolate bars and got a little sick because of it. Some people may not have the same reactions to the same foods but when I eat the things that I have mostly cut out of my diet for the last half year, I get extremely ill. It’s almost not worth it. I said almost. Even I’m a sucker for some chocolate and a good pizza.

I quickly got back on track and started eating way more salads and fruits and good stuff to balance out the havoc I caused from too much sugar. I also tapered down on my Nature-throid to 30 mgs instead of 60.  Eventually, I started to feel better. The worst part of this Hashi’s is having to reevaluate my dosage so frequently. I’ve noticed a slight pattern, every three months or so, where I need to taper down on the meds just to feel normal again. Otherwise, when I’m overmedicated, I can feel very irritable, to say the least. My hormones are still rapidly changing and causing a slight fluctuation in my body.

My naturopathic doctor and I are in communication via email and she is a tremendous ally in my health and wellness goals. Unfortunately, she doesn’t accept insurance and things are a bit tight around here, financially, so I’m still waiting to get some lab work done to keep progressing in my treatment plan. 

I’ve added a meditation program to my regimen and it’s absolutely gratifying to be able to connect on such a deep spiritual level.  I feel rejuvenated and refreshed and most importantly, calm. I never thought I was doing it right because I’d still get distracted by thoughts or sounds in my environment. It’s easier now to let those thoughts pass and reconnect with my mantra or breathing again. It’s taken some time to learn but it’s been a healing process.

I feel great and still have loads of energy, which is huge change from a year ago at this time. I’m looking forward to each and every day being better than the next!

And remember…

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:)

Thanks for stopping in to check on me! 

Homeschool in Progress

Tell me: Is it a learned behavior or is it just innate and normal behavior for a boy, or a man, to yell at an object he is fixing?

As the daughter of a very talented carpenter and cabinet maker, my father yelled plenty of times, often very profane words for a young girl to hear, at the objects he was trying to fix or shape or install. I became accustomed to thinking this was what you do when something doesn’t work out right, you yell about it and you yell AT the thing that was causing your frustration. I married my husband, who has a talent for fixing anything with a motor or moving parts, for that matter, and he, at times, has yelled and swore at an inanimate object he was working to fix. As I sit here, I can hear my now 11 year-old son call his woodworking project a “stupid piece-a-crap.” I can only smile and shake my head. He’s a great kid but he has a hard time accepting responsibility. And he’s pretty dramatic and pretty negative at times. It’s hard to see that because he is so much like me. Like I was.

It takes a tremendous amount of strength to turn your negative way of thinking into a more positive one. It’s double the energy, constant evaluation of your thoughts, awareness, always awareness, and being present in each moment. I find that being grateful is a great way to begin the process of flipping my thinking from negative to positive. If I’m feeling overly agitated, I bring myself back to the present moment by being aware of my actions and reactions. Once I can center myself again, I can choose a different reaction or solution. I’m not always successful but the process of thinking is there and it’s getting easier to handle the difficult situations. Teaching this to an 11 year old is quite a different story. We’re still teaching gratitude and focusing on saying aloud what we want, intending it and then choosing our actions more carefully after that. It’s a work in process, obviously. My kids are very used to hearing mommy talk about this though and are becoming more receptive. That’s all I can hope for…progress.

We’re making progress in school too. By my accounts, we’re keeping up pretty well in some subjects and falling behind in others but it’s OK (I have to keep reminding myself this). We’re making good, solid progress and more importantly, the boys are learning things! Not only are they learning math and the basics, they’re learning how to grocery shop and get the most value for your dollar, learning the good types of foods in the grocery store vs the bad types that make your body feel sick. That’s REAL life lessons, that they’re learning now because they’re home with me and we do everything together, the three of us. Everything we do, we make the most of the opportunity to learn new lessons. This is honestly the best part of homeschooling so far for us.

The worst part is clearly getting the boys to stop playing with each other and focus on their work. My oldest needs help organizing, a lot of help. My youngest is still too busy exploring to actually want to sit down at a table and write his alphabet, for example. So I let them lead me some days. I still have an agenda of what I want them to learn but they’re also my teachers. They direct me into activities that make them happy and interested. My job is to find a way to teach a lesson in the process. And on the days that things aren’t flowing and I can feel mommy-Momster coming out, I have to step back and take inventory. Mostly, it’s me trying to force things against the normal current of life. Once I take focus and turn around, the current takes me streaming down the river. When I can let go of my expectations, things flow smoother. See? I told you these kids are my teachers. And I’m so very grateful for it, everyday.

Progress not Perfection: Clean Living, Clean Eating

IMG_1983I am 3 months into my new lifestyle of eating mostly whole, raw, and organic food. I’ve limited my exposure to chemicals and toxins, including making my own laundry detergent, body wash and dish soap. Want the recipe? Of course you do! Click here. Yep, call me a granola crunchy hippie. :)

I’ve switched medication for my thyroid from a synthetic form of thyroid hormone to a natural one. I’ve added an adrenal complex to my daily regimen, which is really making a difference. I feel good. I weigh 131 lbs., which is pretty close to my ideal weight and most importantly, I have more energy to do the things I love.

My next step is the blood work. I need to get to a lab to evaluate my numbers on the thyroid charts. I’m less inclined to do this because I don’t much care what the charts say, it’s how I feel. And I feel good. There’s always room for improvement though, isn’t there?

I’m not gonna lie, purchasing organic food has been a more expensive way to provide healthy meals to my family but the extra cost is worth it to me to eat and feel better. My digestive issues have disappeared and my overall energy levels are remarkably improved. I no longer have that stubborn belly fat I used to have while eating breads and pastas. The weigh actually melted right off and I don’t have to worry about gaining it back unless I begin eating processed foods and breads, which, I won’t be doing.

Typically, I like to treat my boys to pizza and movie night on the weekend. This is usually the only time I may “cheat” but without fail, every single time I do, I regret it almost immediately. I get so sick from eating bread, chemicals like nitrates, etc. that it’s almost as if it’s a hangover. My stomach convulses in horrible pain, I get a terrible headache, and I get really crabby. Chemicals in foods attach to your nervous system and because I’m sensitive to those elements, I feel the effects immediately. It’s amazing what your body tells you when you listen to it. So, yeah, not really worth the cheating anymore. For the boys, it’s usually ok but my littlest one has the same gluten intolerance we’re finding out so I really need to limit his intake on that crap.

I’ve really learned a lot and adapted my meals according to what I like and what is good for me. Meal-planning is easier with a few staple ingredients. I think we’ve all adapted pretty well to the new changes. I look forward to my children making those good decisions on their own in the near future. It’s happening…slowly…but the other day my 5-year old actually asked for eggs with spinach!

Winning!

Eliminating Toxins using DIY Natural Recipes

Since I went Clean, Green, and Lean, my overall health has improved. I’ve enjoyed learning about the many different ways of creating products that are natural to the environment and easier on our bodies. The idea wasn’t completely foreign to me, as I had made homemade baby wipes in the past. I don’t really use a lot of commercial products and chemicals so that was an easy transition as well.

About three months ago, I began with making my own laundry detergent. It’s easy, much more affordable, good for my skin and environment and always a win, win. I usually make my soap batches every month and they last me just as long. I even get the kids to help me shave the soap, they love it! If you want to try to make your own laundry detergent or dish soap, here are some recipes I use.

HOMEMADE LAUNDRY DETERGENT

Ingredients:

  • 1 bar shaved gentle soap (castille soap works well but I use Ivory)
  • 1 C borax
  • 1 C Washing Soda

 Directions:

  Combine the ingredients and voila!

I add about 2 T to each load of clothes and they come out clean and fresh each time!

And, while we’re on a roll…here’s more DIY Naturally recipes. If you have a chance to visit their blog, it’s the best thing out there since the internet was formed.

HOMEMADE DISH SOAP

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¾ cups boiling water
  • 1 Tbsp borax
  • 1 Tbsp grated bar soap (use castile bar soap, homemade soap, Ivory, or whichever natural bar you prefer)
  • 15-20 drops essential oils, optional (find 100% pure essential oils here) I use Eucalyptus-smells so good and is a great antimicrobial. 

Directions:

  1. Heat water to boiling.
  2. Combine borax and grated bar soap in a medium bowl. Pour hot water over the mixture. Whisk until the grated soap is completely melted.
  3. Allow mixture to cool on the countertop for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. Dish soap will gel upon standing.
  4. Transfer to a squirt bottle, and add essential oils (if using). Shake well to combine.

A little disclaimer about the dish soap. Most of us are used to seeing bubbles form in the water after we squirt a little soap in. Not this kind. There might be a few bubbles at first but then the water will just turn a bit cloudy. This is normal and don’t worry, it’s still going to clean your dishes. Perhaps better than most commercial dish soaps and the plus is that you won’t have any yucky chemicals remaining on your dishes that you eat from!

Also, a little goes a long way with this recipe. You really need only a tablespoon or so for a whole sink full of dishes. My 10-year old son shares dish duty with me so we both had to learn the hard way about using too much soap. Squirt too much and your dishes will be really greasy so less soap and more elbow grease will make those dishes sparkling and squeaky clean. Literally.

Instead of body wash, I’ve been mixing one part water to one part Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castille soap in the Lavender scent. Yum.  It lathers up really nice on a sponge and is gentle enough to use everyday!

I haven’t had enough courage to try to make my own toothpaste yet. I buy the Jason brand which contains no fluoride. Did y’all know that fluoride is really bad for you? Go ahead and google it, I’ll wait.

I haven’t really transitioned into natural makeup yet because frankly, I hardly wear makeup. I do use natural lip balms though.

Because I’ve had issues with my Hashi’s and my hair thinning out incredibly, I currently use Loreal’s sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner. It’s done wonders nourishing my scalp and helping to increase hair growth.

My next purchase in the natural department will be deodorant but since I had a whole tube, I can’t justify throwing it out just yet. Plus, it smells so good and works so well. I’m a little leery of making my own deodorant, but it’s possible.

That about covers the beauty end of things. As for cleaning around the home, I’ve thrown away all harsh chemicals and use baking soda, vinegar, and liquid castille soap for all my cleaning. My house smells clean, fresh, and I don’t need to open all the windows to air it out afterwards!

If you have ever had just one little desire to make a difference on this planet or to improve your overall health, I sincerely recommend eliminating the toxins and chemicals from your home first. If you don’t believe me, read Clean, Green, and Lean by Dr. Walter Crinnion. This book was an easy read and definitely made me a believer, opening my eyes up to the dangerous and often deadly effects of toxins and chemicals in almost every product we use.

Happy Crunchy Things to you and yours,

From the Granola Crunchy Hippie in Sedona :)

Homeschool: We’re Doin’ It!

The weeks are just flying by before I have a chance to finish a complete thought.

I’d like to write about our trip to California we took at spring break. Yes, I know. March. We’re approaching September. I have come to terms with reality that that may not happen.

I’d like to write about the boys’ swim lessons this summer. Or the summer in general. Or our week long vacation to Colorado where we went jeepin’ over 13, 000 ft mountain peaks and soaked in natural hot springs and visited our old favorite hangouts. Or the wedding I photographed and the energy I took back with me from Colorado. Or school. Or my clean eating lifestyle changes. Or my progress in my treatment plan for Hashi’s. There’s just so much happening right now that it’s been a little daunting to even wrap my brain around it all.

I’ll begin with what’s most important to me and what’s been weighing on my mind most heavily the last three weeks.

School.

As you all are well aware, we are nearing that time in summer where we transition our lives from summer chaos to fall and the beginning of school. Many of you delight in the fact that you can send your children off for 8 or more hours a day and finally can get the house cleaned and make it stay clean for more than 20 minutes. In fact, school is already in session here. I know. They went back nearly three weeks ago!

But that joyous day of sending my children away never came for me. And for that, I couldn’t be more grateful. 

We moved to Sedona in May 2012, just after Mason, my oldest, completed his 3rd grade year in Colorado. Great school. We were all very sad to leave. However, Sedona brought us new adventures and we were ready to begin them. We weren’t ready, however, for school to begin back up in early August. We were pressed for time because school started three weeks earlier than I had planned and I felt rushed to get him into a school, any school. So, we opted for the public school with daily bus service to our little home in the canyon. It started off just ok. His teacher was really young, first year (AGAIN! Mason gets a first year teacher) so I was pretty nervous how he was going to handle his classroom. From what I saw of this teacher, not too impressed. Personality of an eraser. But what does my opinion matter? Mason liked him.

Working nights was hard throughout the school year because I was left out of the loop on many occasions. I asked how school was every time I saw him but I still felt disconnected. Mason finished off his fourth grade year with some minor behavior issues, serious organizational issues, and grades that fluctuated all over the scale, very different from his previous years. Despite being in a gifted and talented program, he still came home with F’s on his report card. It wasn’t that he didn’t know the information, it’s just that he was lazy. Not motivated. He just didn’t turn in or do most of his assignments unless someone was right behind him telling him to get them done.

I knew something needed to change in a hurry or I was going to lose Mason to the “institution” and he’d lose interest in learning forever.

I thought about it for maybe a week but I knew what I had to do. I was done interviewing schools in the area. There weren’t any that I thought would be good for Mason. It just isn’t possible for us to drop him off and pick him up everyday from school because of mine and my husband’s work schedule, so the private charters were out. We don’t know many families in Sedona to rely on carpooling and the bus system doesn’t run for the charter schools.

I thought, “I can do this. I loved school when I was younger. I practiced teaching my cousins every chance I had, those poor girls. Hey, just because I didn’t finish my teaching degree doesn’t mean I don’t know how to teach! I know I can teach him myself! Who knows my kid better than me? No one!”

And so began our journey into the world of homeschooling.

At first, I was going to enroll him in an online charter school. I call this my lazy option. We discussed this and neither Mason, nor I was too crazy about him sitting in front of a computer to learn for six hours a day. Mason actually vetoed it immediately! I was more excited about the free materials I’d get to teach with. The more research I did and the more reviews I read, this was not the school for us. We needed flexibility, after all, that’s a huge  bonus to homeschooling. Mason needs the opportunity to work ahead when possible and this school didn’t allow that.

My next step was to research how to make my own curriculum.

Holy cow.

What an undertaking this is.

I went to the book store, my favorite place to be lately, and picked up a couple basic math and language arts curriculum books made by Spectrum. These are workbooks that Mason will use directly for his lessons. Then I got another book called, What Your 5th Grader Should Know by E. D. Hirsch. This is a very good breakdown of things every 5th grader across the U.S. should be learning, from music and visual arts to history, math and science. It aligns with most state standards. This book helped to give me ideas about what Mason learned last year and where to pick up and begin this year. As I said, I’ve been out of the loop so my first question while making a curriculum was the obvious, “What the heck am I supposed to be teaching?”

From there, I started downloading the core standards of my state. I would never have known to do this had it not been for my teaching program at GCU, so for that I’m grateful. The core standards, again, is a breakdown of the things a typical 5th grader will be taught over the course of the year. This is more from an actual teacher in a classroom standpoint but it’s a good launching point. Homeschooler’s don’t need to strictly adhere to the standards but I want Mason to learn the basics and then some. The standards don’t give specific lessons but generates concepts to teach with certain units of study. Students are expected to have a firm understanding of each concept listed on the core standards.

Once I had the standards, it was easier to tentatively plan out the year and decide not only which subjects to teach but which lessons or units I want to cover in those subjects. This is actually a really fun part of planning but it’s very tedious and overwhelming at times. In Arizona, home school students must be taught the subjects of Reading, Grammar, Math, Social Studies, and Science, at the very minimum. Mason will also learn more about Writing, Literature, Spelling, the Arts, Home-Economics, and will even get some shop work in once a week, or so. The beautiful thing about homeschooling is that these lessons are all around us, not just in a workbook or on the computer. Mason will get to participate in the grocery shopping, cooking, and even head to work with dad one day for shop class and brush up on more of his carpentry skills. We call this shop and math!

My plan for Mason is to teach him verbally and assist him with various worksheets and games and experiments, depending on subject matter. I also will be incorporating movies, online learning games, interactive lessons, field trips to local museums, galleries and geological sites and plenty of books into his daily lessons. Oh there will be books! Mason’s favorite thing to do is read so he will be doing tons of that. Autobiographies, stories, poetry, history lessons, and his science will be mainly books we rent from the library. There are TONS of FREE resources online where I can not only print worksheets and workbooks but also set him up with learning activities, quizzes, games, ideas for experiments, and so much more.  We live in a great time period where homeschooling is made so much easier by all the available resources.

Setting up a 5th grade home school curriculum is not an easy task. Thanks to the internet and other homeschooling families in my community, it’s been a lot less difficult than I thought it would be.

We officially start in one week and plan to run a 36-week course. I haven’t planned out the year entirely because I still want Mason to have some flexibility in his learning and be able to direct me to a new topic or curiosity at the time he desires. I’m excited though. I always knew I’d be a teacher someday. Just never thought, in a million years, I’d be a homeschooling mom.

Oh and not to be forgotten, little Jackson turns 5 at the end of September so he and I will be starting his Preschool curriculum this year as well. This is a bit more relaxed and common to me, as I was a preschool teacher for at least two years, both in a classroom and more informally.